This recipe was inspired by a meal Cliff ordered in Sorrento. I think everybody should go to Italy just for the food alone. There is nothing that compares to it and every single meal inspired us enough to try and recreate it at home. When he ordered the pasta with broccoli I was imagining something more along the lines of the Linguine with Broccoli that we make all the time. But it was totally different! I had never heard of or thought about making broccoli pesto before, but it was so good!
Whenever we cook sausage we choose hot Italian sausage because that’s what we prefer. It adds an extra zing. But this pasta would be great with sweet Italian sausage also. We all loved it…even more than we imagined. Well, not Kara…she wouldn’t try because she doesn’t eat sausage. But my mom, Cliff and I all thought it was great! The orecchiette was perfect because it clung to the pesto. This elephant ear shaped pasta is great with a thick or chunky sauce. A tube pasta would work well too. This one is a definite make again!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound orecchiette pasta
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup reserved pasta water
For the Broccoli Pesto:
4 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the Broccoli Pesto. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the broccoli to a food processor. Toss in the walnuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and mascarpone cheese and pulse while slowly pouring in olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until thick and smooth. Set Broccoli Pesto aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Cook the onion until softened then add the garlic and continue to cook, just until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the sausage next, breaking it up into pieces while it cooks. Cook the sausage until brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the sausage cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and cook orecchiette according to package directions. Cook the noodles for 1 minute less than the directions call for. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
Add the drained pasta to the dutch oven and stir to combine. Add 1-2 cups of pesto, stirring to combine. You want enough pesto so that the pesto clings to all the noodles. Thin out the sauce with pasta water as needed. Remove from heat and serve with extra pesto on the side.
Source: a Live Love Pasta original