Broccoli & Sausage Orecchiette

  • By Jackie Sun
  • April 26, 2015

Broccoli and Sausage Orecchiette | Weeknight Meal #recipe via @CookSmartsAs mentioned last week, when we featured our recipe for Black Bean and Chard Enchiladas, we couldn’t decide if we should post the enchilada recipe or one for Broccoli and Sausage Orecchiette.

So we asked all of you on Facebook to help us decide. Of course, both recipes are too good to pass up, so it ended up in a tie. But as promised, we are going to give you both recipes!

Hopefully you had a chance to try those cheesy, flavorful enchiladas stuffed with black beans and chard, but if not, no worries. You can try out this super easy and tasty pasta dish first, and then come back for some hearty enchiladas later this week.

“Such a simple, yet delicious sauce! Really enjoyed the broccoli in this dish.”

Broccoli and Sausage Orecchiette | Weeknight Meal #recipe via @CookSmartsWhat’s so awesome about today’s pasta recipe is that it is incredibly easy and quick to make, which is perfect for a weeknight meal. It’s also a super budget-friendly meal, as it contains foods from our List of 10 Budget-Friendly Ingredients – dried pasta, canned tomatoes, and fresh broccoli.

[Cooking Tip: Sub frozen broccoli florets for fresh broccoli, and you won’t have to worry about chopping!]

You wouldn’t believe how several simple ingredients could come together and make something so flavorful and robust! With a tangy tomato sauce, spicy sausage bites, and a good dose of green veggies, this dish has it all. It really is a comforting meal that we could eat any day of the week.

“My hubby and I loved this dish! He said it tasted like a true Italian dish, and it may have been his favorite Cook Smarts meal yet!”

We love a good pasta dish, and the fun thing about pasta is that it comes in different shapes and sizes. If you can find it, we highly recommend trying orecchiette pasta, which means little ear in Italian, and you can see why! The pasta is shaped like small ears, and it is really, really fun to eat. Its bowl shape is also perfect for holding little pockets of delicious tomato sauce, so that each bite is saucy and flavorful.

Although we love our pasta, we do try to cut back on some carbs, which is where the broccoli and sausage come in. By reducing the amount of pasta and adding more veggies and meat instead, we can still have a filling meal with less heavy carbs and more greens and protein. The perfect balance!

Make it even more budget-friendly!
Meatless meals are a great and healthy way to save money, especially when you are cooking on a budget. We’re not telling you to go completely vegetarian, but having a meat-free meal every now and then, or once a week, can help you save.

To make this dish even more of a budget-friendly meal, use canned chickpeas (another one of our budget-friendly ingredients) instead of sausage, and add a pinch of red pepper flakes to add a bit of heat.

And you can even add more flavor by adding aromatics, and what we like to do is add a couple garlic cloves, sliced, before sauteing the chickpeas for a bit of garlicky goodness!

For More Smarts:

Italians incorporate pasta water into their sauces. If you salted your water enough, it should be thick and tasty and help make your sauce even creamier and more flavorful.

Prepping Smarts:

Learn how to chop broccoli and chiffonade herbs with our cooking videos below:

Equipment Smarts:

To save time (and use less dishes), we cook both the pasta and broccoli in a sauce pan like this one.

Buy this 3 quart sauce pan from Calphalon on Amazon

A saute pan is used to cook the sausage. Make sure it’s big enough to hold the pasta and broccoli when you fold it all together in the end.

Buy this 5 quart saute pan from Cuisinart on Amazon

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’

Broccoli & Sausage Orecchiette
Author: Jess Dang
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Broccoli, sausage, and tomato sauce make a great combination for a pasta dish. Try it with orecchiette (translated: little ear pasta) or your favorite pasta shape.
  • Ingredients
  • Broccoli – 1 1/4 lb, chopped
  • Basil – 4 sprigs, chiffonaded
  • Orecchiette – 8 oz
  • Cooking oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Italian sausage, uncooked – 10 oz
  • Crushed tomatoes – 2 cups
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) – 1/4 tsp
  • Lemons – 1/2, juice of
  • Parmesan cheese (opt) – 2 oz, shaved or grated
  1. Broccoli – Chop into bite-sized pieces. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  2. Basil – Chiffonade.
  1. Bring a sauce pan of water to boil. Salt generously and add pasta. Cook until al dente, tender but not soggy. About 1 minute before finishing, add in broccoli. Drain, saving ½ cup (or 118 ml) of pasta water.
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil and then sausage to heated oil. Break sausage up and cook until brown on the outside, 3 to 5 minutes. (If you have a good non-stick pan, you can skip the oil)
  3. Add crushed tomatoes and pasta water with red pepper flakes (if using), and saute for ~2 minutes.
  4. Mix pasta and broccoli into the sauce, and saute until everything is cooked through.
  5. Remove from heat. Fold in basil, and finish with lemon juice and parmesan cheese (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper.


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