The concept of combining sausages and broccoli with pasta was quite a strange one for me, it isn’t something I would normally pick off the menu, namely because I am not a huge fan of Italian sausages (I know…I know…I’m weird). But, having spent the time making fresh orecchiette (which was a super fun but tough task in itself), I felt it only right to make this dish.
Orecchiette, salsiccia e broccoli originates from Southern Italy, so if you’re travelling through Puglia or Basilicata, chances are you will have the opportunity to give this dish a go with homemade fresh pasta! If, for now, you don’t fancy the hard work, then you can simply buy the dried version from any good supermarket or Italian deli. Just check the cooking times on the packaging as they will differ. If you’re using fresh orecchiette then these will only take 2-3 minutes to boil, so it is important to cook these once you have pretty much finished preparing the “sauce” otherwise you will end up with overcooked pasta, and nobody wants that.
Now, even though I don’t particularly like Italian sausages, I wanted to make this dish as close to the authentic version as possible. To do so, I used Cumberland sausages and added in 3 simple ingredients which more or less take you to the level of Italian sausages - garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. These will transform the basic Cumberland sausage and turn this pasta into something that is out of this world! Be warned, the chilli gives this a real kick!
Naturally, if you can get hold of Italian sausages, then hold off on the chilli and fennel as it’s likely the sausage meat will already contain this and you will end up overpowering the meat! But, especially now I know that this can be tricky, so the simple, well know Cumberland sausage will do just fine!
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
4 Cumberland sausages
1 Garlic clove, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp Chilli flakes
240g Broccoli florets, rinsed
40g Parmesan, grated
1 Tbsp Olive oil
Boil water in a large saucepan, salt heavily once boiling and add the broccoli florets. Boil for 5 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon, set aside. Add the orecchiette to the same saucepan and cook as per packet - if using fresh orecchiette they will only take a couple minutes so boil them once your sausages are cooked!
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium. Add fennel seeds, chilli flakes and garlic clove and fry for 1 minute.
Remove the sausages from their skins, add to the frying pan and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the meat, combining with the chilli and fennel. Season with a little salt and pepper and stir to combine. After 5-7 minutes, the sausage meat should start to brown.
Add the broccoli florets, break them up into small pieces and stir to coat in the oil, fennel and chilli flakes. Continue to cook through for a further 2-3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked orecchiette to frying pan and combine, if needed, add some pasta water to help make the sauce a little creamy, sprinkle over the parmesan and serve immediately.