Spicy Italian sausage, delicious sun dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and the cutest little orecchiette noodles you’ve ever seen are smothered in a light yet creamy Parmesan sauce that tastes much more indulgent than it is. Have I sold you on this Orecchiette + Italian Sausage in a Light Cream Sauce yet?
The name started out as a working name. Actually, my boyfriend loved this dish so much he claimed I should call it “Molly’s Pasta” and just make it my namesake dish. But, since that name wouldn’t be helpful to anyone trying to find a recipe with orecchiette, or a light pasta dish with sun dried tomatoes, or Italian sausage… I’m sticking to the original.
Whatever the name is- this pasta is damn good. The sun dried tomatoes don’t overpower, they complement the light cream sauce with a bit of nutty Parmesan perfectly. The Italian sausage adds a bit of spice and big touch of savory. The cream sauce uses chicken broth to keep things light, but it sure doesn’t taste like it. And the orecchiette pasta is the perfect shape to capture all that yummy, creamy, sauce. Oh, and there’s a touch of spinach to add a bit of green into the fold. This pasta dish is a winner.
I’ve made this dish 5 or 6 times now- not that it took me that long to perfect the recipe. It was one of those that I made once and it was absolutely delish! But, I went to gather the ingredients to make it again and photograph for you, and grocery store shelves were depleted. Our state was days away from a stay-at-home order due to the covid19 virus and so I made a few versions of this pasta with other noodles, or without spinach, or with jarred sundried tomatoes. Not bad, but not quite the same.
But I’ve since stocked up on orrechiette pasta so that I could make this dish the right way, and oh my gosh. It was just as comforting as I remembered. This Orecchiette + Italian Sausage in a Light Cream Sauce packs the perfect medley of Italian flavors into each bite. I could hardly snap a few pics before scarfing an entire bowl down! It’s that good.
What you’ll need to make the dish:
- Italian Sausage- you can use a chicken Italian sausage to keep things lean if you would like. If you can only find sausage sold in casings, cut a slit down the length of the sausage casing and squeeze the meat out.
- Orecchiette pasta. 10 ounces. This is such a fun pasta to work with! Its Italian for little ears.. or something like that. A decent substitute would be medium shell pasta, or penne. Some kind of pasta that will allow the yummy cream sauce to pool up inside.
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour. This will compose our roux, or the base of our cream sauce.
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth + 1 cup reduced fat milk. Traditionally in a sauce like this, we would be using full-fat milk and topping things with a good splash of heavy cream. I think this pasta is right on the money with the lighter swaps though!
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Set aside a little extra for topping, as well. I’m a fan of a good parm, but – in these strange quarantine times, I did resort to using Parmesan from the big green kraft shaker for two run through’s of this recipe. And it wasn’t terrible. Like every recipe right now, make this pasta work with what you have!
- 3 ounces sundried tomatoes. I used the kind bought in a sealed plastic bag. These tasted different in the final product than using the jarred ones packed in oil. Promise.
- Salt + Pepper: about a half teaspoon each.
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach.
Want some other yummy comfort-food recipes that hit the spot? Try my Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, or Quick + Easy Spaghetti Carbonara! Looking for something else Italian? You can’t got wrong with a homemade Traditional Salami Pizza.
By the way… I’ve been totally obsessed with these pasta bowls from Target. They’re the perfect size to hold a nice big bowl of deliciousness, and wide enough to allow any extra grated parmesan or herbs you may be topping with to cover more square footage. Obsessed. And, they are pretty, so there’s that.
The full instructions, with tips + tricks, can be found in the recipe below. Let me know how you like this Orecchiette + Italian Sausage in a Light Cream Sauce. It’s quickly become one of our favorites around here– if there are any leftovers they don’t last very long. This is a pasta you’ll want to add into your dinner rotation!
Orecchiette + Italian Sausage in a Light Cream Sauce
- 1 lb Italian Sausage or Chicken Italian Sausage ground
- 10 ounces Orecchiette Pasta see notes
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + extra for topping
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 ounces sun dried tomatoes sold dry in pouch, not packed in oil
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach
- Heat a large (10"+) saucepan or dutch oven on medium-high heat. This will be for our meat and sauce.
- Separately, bring 4-6 quarts water to a rolling boil, and add a pinch of salt. Add orecchiette and cook according to package directions.
- While waiting for water to boil, add Italian sausage to first pan and cook through, making sure to brown and crumble the meat thoroughly.
- Once cooked, set meat aside and drain any excess oil. Keep the pan on medium-high heat. Add butter to the pan and once melted, cook the garlic in the butter for 30 seconds or until garlic is very fragrant. Add flour and whisk into the butter + garlic mixture, to create a paste. Cook this paste, whisking often, for 2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes while whisking, until a sauce forms that is thick and bubbly. Turn heat to low.
- Add in the grated parmesan, salt and pepper and stir until sauce is smooth. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes.
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Stir in with the sausage and spinach, until spinach is a darker green color and has wilted a bit.
- Serve hot, topped with extra parmesan. Mangia!