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This pasta dish is traditional in Puglia, Italy.

It combines ear-shaped pasta, savory sausage, and bitter rapini in a light sauce of white wine, aromatics, and butter. The saltiness of this sauce depends entirely on the type of sausage you buy. Adjust to your taste, once everything is combined. To alter this recipe to suit a milder palate, replace the hot Italian sausages with mild ones, omit the fresh chili, and blanch the rapini ahead of time, plunging in ice water after cooking to remove most of its bitterness.

How to Make It

Difficulty: Easy

Overall Time: 40 min

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 20 min

  • 4 links hot Italian sausage, about 1 lb (454 g), casings removed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 red finger chilis, thinly sliced or 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 batch of orecchiette (recipe HERE)
  • 1 large bunch rapini, chopped and washed, about 8 cups
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
  1. Heat oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Add sausages and break up into bite-sized pieces. Do not crumble sausage completely. Spread in an even layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden-brown on the first side, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Stir, scraping up browned bits, and cook through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  2. Add chili, garlic, and fennel seeds to the pan with the sausage. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Scrape up browned bits and cook until wine evaporates, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orecchiette and stir to prevent sticking. Cook for 1 minute. Add rapini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until orecchiette is al dente and rapini is tender crisp, 1 to 2 minutes more. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain orecchiette and rapini.
  4. Add orecchiette, rapini, butter, and ½ cup pasta water to the pan with sausage. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until butter is melted, and sauce becomes glossy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually add more pasta water for a silkier sauce, if desired.
  5. Divide between plates, then top with grated Pecorino Romano, and more oil, if desired.

How to enjoy it

For a weeknight version of this dish, replace the homemade orecchiette with 1 ⅓ lb (600 g) store-bought fresh semolina pasta, or 454g store-bought dried short pasta.

Homemade Orecchiette by Casa de Suna
Homemade Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Rapini recipe by Casa de Suna

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