Broccoli and Sausage with Orecchiette Pasta
Broccoli and Sausage with Orecchiette Pasta has tender broccoli, flavorful sausage, and fun orecchiette pasta in a luscious Boursin cream sauce. Ready in 30 minutes, this indulgent dinner is spectacularly easy yet incredibly delicious. This recipe uses only one pot and one pan making clean up easy too!
What is orecchiette pasta?
Orecchiette pasta is a fun pasta shaped like little bowls to hold your sauce. In Italian, “orecchiette” literally means “small ear”. Because of its shape, it is best suited for chunkier sauces so in this sauce, it does well to hold little bits of sausage and broccoli. It used to be harder to find, but I never have any trouble anymore right in the regular dried pasta section. If not available, however, medium-sized shells pasta (which is even easier to find) is a good substitute.
About the ingredients
All of these ingredients should be readily available at grocery stores in the US.
- Italian sausage. Use either bulk or link sausage, but if using links remove the casings. Use mild or medium to your preference of heat.
- Orecchiette pasta. If orecchiette pasta is not available, substitute medium shells pasta.
- Broccoli florets. I recommend using steam-in-bag broccoli florets, available in both the fresh produce and freezer sections. Fresh or frozen is fine, just be sure to microwave for a minute less than the directions. My bag said to cook 4 minutes, so I cooked 3.
- White wine. A little white wine is used to deglaze and get up the browned yum-yums of sausage left stuck to the pan. I used white because I had some right there and, let’s be honest, why not. Chicken stock is a good alternative.
- Unsalted butter. When making any alfredo-like sauce, I add a bit of butter for flavor and smoothness.
- Regular whipping cream. Cream comes as either regular or heavy cream. If regular cream is not available, use heavy cream but also add a bit of milk so it doesn’t get too thick.
- Seasonings: kosher salt and garlic powder. You can opt for fresh garlic, but I recommend giving raw garlic a quick cook in a bit of olive oil to take the raw bite out of it, which would overwhelm the sauce.
- Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs. Boursin is one of my favorite ingredients (check out my Bacon and Boursin Mac and Cheese YUM!) and using it to make a Boursin cream sauce is divine! Find it with the specialty cheeses.
- Fresh herbs for garnish. No dinner is complete without a little sprinkling of fresh green herb on top to finish.
How to make Broccoli and Sausage with Orecchiette Pasta
Cook the sausage
First, cook the sausage. If using sausage links, remove the casings. Brown the sausage in your largest sauté pan breaking the meat up into little crumbles as it cooks. Once no longer pink, the meat is done so we transfer to a bowl or plate lined with paper towels to drain the fat while we make everything else.
Cook the orecchiette pasta
Next, we get the orecchiette pasta cooking. Add it to the boiling water and set the timer to cook al dente according to the directions on the package.
Cook the broccoli
While the pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli for 1 minute under what the package says to do. This is to make sure we don’t have soggy broccoli, since it will cook a touch more when added to the sauce.
Make the Boursin cream sauce
Also while the pasta is cooking, make the Boursin cream sauce. To the hot pan (back on the burner) that had the sausage in it, add the wine and deglaze the pan – this means using a wooden spatula or spoon to scrape up the browned bits of meat and juice left behind stuck to the pan. During this process, the simmering wine will reduce and the alcohol will cook off.
Heat the cream and butter in the same pan used for the sausage to a simmer over medium heat (reduce heat if necessary). Add the salt, garlic powder, and continue to simmer until slightly thickened. Add the Boursin and stir until smooth – the Boursin will make the sauce even thicker. If it gets too thick (we want it the consistency of a thin-ish alfredo), just add a little splash of milk.
Assemble your Broccoli and Sausage with Orecchiette
Chop any large florets of broccoli to bite-sized pieces. Add the broccoli, sausage, and drained pasta to the Boursin cream sauce. Top with a sprinkling of lovely fresh herbs and enjoy.
Medium sized pasta shells are an alternative for orecchiette. After that, any fun pasta of choice will suffice – rotini and rigatoni come to mind.
Any dish with a cream- or butter-based sauce needs to be reheated gently to prevent separation. In other words, you don’t want to end up with an oil slick on the bottom of your plate or bowl, so reheat in small (20 second) increments in the microwave to heat up leftovers.
Your choice! Generally speaking, I tend to use hot sausage myself, but in this recipe I used mild Italian sausage so the flavors would work harmoniously with Boursin and broccoli. If in doubt, use mild sausage to prepare the recipe and then have crushed red pepper flakes on hand to up the heat to your desired level.
This is a tough one. Cream sauces don’t like to cooperate and are really best made fresh. But if that is not possible, I recommend adding an ounce of cream cheese or a slice of white American cheese because both have ingredients that can help stabilize the sauce and prevent separation of the oil from the milk solids when reheating.
Broccoli and Sausage with Pasta
- 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
- 1 (12 oz) box orecchiette pasta
- 1 (12 oz) bag broccoli florets, preferably steam-in-bag for microwave cooking see Notes
- ¼ cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups regular whipping cream see Notes
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 (5.2 oz) package Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs
- garnish: chopped fresh herbs such as parsley and basil
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking into bits with a spatula as it cooks, until crumbled and no longer pink. Transfer sausage to a plate or bowl lined with paper towels to drain the fat. Put the pan back on the stove.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and set timer to cook al dente according to package directions.
- Put the broccoli to cook in the microwave according to package directions but reduce the cook time by 1 minute.
- To the hot sauté pan, add the wine. Cook the wine until reduced by half, scraping up the browned bits of sausage from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the butter, cream, salt, and garlic powder. Cook until lightly thickened. Add the Boursin and stir until smooth.
- Chop larger broccoli florets (cooked at this point) into bite-sized pieces. Add the broccoli and sausage to the Boursin sauce.
- Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.