Recipe of the Week: Orecchiette with Sausage & Cherry Tomatoes

October 20, 2011

As the season gets colder and colder I crave the necessary pick me up that only a rich bowl of comfort food can provide. Foods like thick stews, warm minestrones and heavy pasta dishes. Orecchiette with sausage and cherry tomatoes is the kind of meal you’ll enjoy during a cold, rainy day, especially if you pair it with a bold, cherry-dense glass of Merlot!

A great alternative to using ground meat is to use sausage instead; it’s a good sauce shortcut because the meat is already seasoned. For a salty, creamy finish, stir in some shredded provolone cheese before serving.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
·         1 pound orecchiette pasta
·         1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
·         1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
·         1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
·         Salt
·         2 ounces aged provolone, shredded


1.    In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

2.    Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sausage in 1-inch clumps and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate.

3.    Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet along with the tomatoes and crushed red pepper; cook over moderately high heat, pressing the tomatoes until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, season with salt and cook over moderate heat, scraping up any browned bits and crushing the tomatoes, until the liquid is reduced by half and the tomatoes are nearly broken down, about 5 minutes.

4.    Add the pasta to the skillet along with the sausage and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook, stirring, until the pasta is evenly coated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the provolone. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Try a bold, cherry-dense Merlot from Napa Valley.

Most importantly, always remember to share your meals with someone who enjoys the pleasure of eating just as much as you ;)

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