Spicy Orecchiette with Fennel Sausage, Roasted Walnuts, Garlic and Broccolini

Spicy Orecchiette with Fennel Sausage, Roasted Walnuts, Garlic and Broccolini

This simple, flavorful pasta dish is a great way to feed a crowd!

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch (3-4 ounces, more or less) broccolini cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces fennel sausage or other good-quality spicy sausage meat
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped, California walnuts, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 10 ounces (about 3 cups) dried orecchiette pasta, or small shell-shaped pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional:

  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra cheese for serving
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (You can use the same water for blanching the broccolini and cooking the orecchiette.) Drop the broccolini into the water and boil for 1 minute. Remove the broccolini with a slotted spoon, into a colander. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside on a clean towel to absorb any excess water.
  2. Return the salted water to a boil. Drop in the orecchiette and boil for 9–11 minutes, just until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, add the sausage. Cook, breaking into pieces with a spatula, for 5-7minutes. Add the garlic, walnuts, chili powder, rosemary and cayenne and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes longer. Add the butter and the reserved broccolini to the sausage mixture and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and stir.
  4. Drain the pasta well in a colander, then add the hot pasta to the sausage mixture and stir and toss to combine, coating the pasta with sauce. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and walnut oil.