Saturday, February 20, 2021

ChezCindy: Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Spinach


This pasta dish is a good recipe to have on hand, cooking with ingredients you may already have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.  It is flexible in that you can use any small shaped pasta, such as the orecchiette or medium shell.  And any greens in the refrigerator, spinach, swiss chard or even kale are all nice to use.  If you are not a fan of sausage, you could use ground beef or ground chicken.  In my house, I always have a large hunk of Parmesan cheese, but asiago or mozzarella would work too.

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
8 ounces orecchiette pasta or medium shells
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces mild Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
1-2 teaspoons fennel seed, depending on your preference
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to your preference
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
6 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, additional for garnish

Prepare the orecchiette or shell pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 3/4 cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.  Drain the pasta and set aside.

Working in a large deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet.  Add the sausage to the hot pan, breaking up the sausage into small bits while stirring, cooking for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.  Add in the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and minced garlic, stirring to combine, cooking for only 1 minute.  Quickly pour in the 1/4 cup of white wine, stirring to combine, this will stop the garlic from getting too brown.  Cook this mixture for another 2-3 minutes.  Add in the fresh spinach, kosher salt, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, stirring the spinach into the sausage to wilt the spinach.  This will take a few minutes for the spinach to wilt down.  Add in the cooked, drained pasta and about half of the reserved pasta water, stirring to combine.  

Off the heat, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top, combining with the sausage and spinach.  Add in more of the reserved pasta water to make a light creamy sauce.  Garnish with more Parmesan cheese as desired.  Serve hot.  

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