Named for it’s ear-like shape, orecchiette (literally, Italian for “little ears”) is perfect for scooping up nutty brown butter sauce with every bite. Here orecchiette is tossed with salty Italian sausage, beefsteak tomatoes, yellow squash, and cheese, of course. With just a handful of simple ingredients, this recipe for Orecchiette with Italian Sausage delivers an exceptional, fragrant dinner you can make any night of the week with ease.
Kitchen time-saver: Slice all the sage together! Stack all the picked leaves. Roll the stack up, then cut the roll into thin slices. Separate them with your fingers, and voila.
While it cooks, pasta will release starches into the boiling water. Adding some reserved pasta water to the sauce will help it bind with the noodles. Just keep adding it until the sauce is silky—you may need more than you think.
⅛ ounce sage
1 summer squash
1 beefsteak tomato
12 ounces ground sweet Italian sausage
8 ounces orecchiette
2 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup grated pecorino cheese, divided
12″ large pot
10″ medium high-sided pan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Thinly slice sage leaves, discarding stems (see Recipe Tip). Halve squash lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch half-moons. Roughly chop tomato. Pat sausage dry with paper towel.
Season pot of boiling water generously with salt. Stir in orecchiette and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and set aside.
While orecchiette cooks, heat half of butter in a medium high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add squash in a single layer and cook, without moving, until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip squash and add tomato to pan, season with ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook until tomato is softened and squash is tender, 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Wipe pan from vegetables clean and add remaining butter over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add sausage and cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, 4-5 minutes. Stir in sage and season with ¼ teaspoon salt.
Add orecchiette to pan with sausage, reduce heat to medium, and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, until sauce is thick and clings to pasta (see Recipe Tip). Remove pan from heat.
Add vegetables and half of pecorino to pan with orecchiette and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Divide between 2 bowls, sprinkle with remaining pecorino, and enjoy your meal!