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Orecchiette with Sausage and Red Pepper Sauce

November 12, 2008

Last night I guess I went crazy and decided it would be a good night to make fresh pasta.  As a show of my continued dedication to orecchiette, I made that because it’s one of my favorites and doesn’t require a pasta machine.  If you don’t want to try your hand at pasta, you can pair this quick and tasty sauce with any pasta.

Sauce:

3/4 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage

1 T olive oil (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped

1 box mushrooms, sliced

1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, pureed in blender

3 handfuls spinach, coarsely chopped

Salt for seasoning

Parmesan for sprinkling

Directions:

Remove sausage from casing and crumble into a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat until cooked through.  Remove from pan, leaving any drippings in pan.  Add garlic, red pepper and mushrooms (and olive oil if the pan is dry) and cook over medium low heat until pepper and mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add pureed tomatoes and cooked sausage bring to a simmer.  Lower heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.  Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste for salt.  Add cooked orecchiette and pasta water to loosen the sauce and toss to combine.  Served topped with Parmesan.

Orecchiette:

1 t sea salt

3/4 c warm water

2 c semolina flour

Directions:

Dissolve sea salt in the warm water in a large bowl.  Using an electric mixer on medium, add the semolina in a stream and mix until a stiff dough forms.  Knead dough for about 6 minutes.  Divide into 8 pieces, and let rest under an overturned bowl for 30 minutes.

Line baking sheets with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth).  When dough has rested, roll each ball into a rope.  Break off pieces to make 1/4″ balls, place on the counter and smash with a thumb coated in semolina flour.  Transfer the pasta to the lined baking sheet.  Repeat  until all dough is used.  Let formed dough sit for 30 minutes to dry out.  After 30 minutes, bring a pot of water to a boil and add orecchiette to the pot.  Cook until al dente (about 3 minutes).

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