Food | Orecchiette with Asparagus and Sausage

| September 22, 2014

13438494413_bc73578234_zLisa Harp, Valdosta Today Food Contributor:

This simple yet delicious pasta dish is perfect for those nights when you don’t want a really heavy dish

This tasty dish is made with orecchiette noodles. Orecchiette actually comes from two Italian words that mean “ear” and “small,” which gives you the word for “small ears” because the pasta looks like little ears. There’s a little trivia for you to throw out at your next dinner party.

This recipe has crispy ground sausage and is loaded with peas. There is also an abundance of asparagus. Life is funny sometimes the way it points you in the right direction without you really knowing what in the world is going on. I’m topping it off with a heaping amount of lemon infused ricotta cheese.

You can put this meal together in about 30 minutes. I think that qualifies this as a simple and delicious recipe you can make on those days when you’re too tired to cook. You can whip this up in no time at all.


•4 slices day old bread, sourdough or french bread
13438468223_c560e74fa7•3 tablespoons olive oil
•1 pound spicy sausage, casings removed
•1 shallot, minced
•3 garlic cloves, minced
•1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon black pepper
•½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
•1 cup ricotta cheese
•1 tablespoon lemon zest
•1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
•1 pound orecchiette
•2 cups pasta cooking water, reserved
•1½ cups frozen peas, thawed
•½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool and dry out for a bit. Break up the bread with your hands and place it into a food processor. Pulse until the bread resembles coarse crumbs. Return the crumbs to the baking sheet and toast in the oven for a few minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the sausage using a wooden spoon to break it up, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the chopped asparagus and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the asparagus is tender and bright green. Remove from the heat and set it off to the side. In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with a bit of salt and black pepper to taste, stir to combine. Set off to the side for later.

Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Season with tons of salt and bring back to a boil. Add the orecchiette noodles and cook as directed on the box, until tender. Reserve some of the pasta cooking liquid (about 2 cups). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, set over low to medium heat. Add the cooked sausage and asparagus mixture to the orecchiette, and stir together with about 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add about half of the bread crumbs, all of the peas and the parmesan cheese. Stir everything together and cook until it’s heated through. Season with a bit more black pepper if desired. If the pasta begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add more of that reserved pasta water.

Serve the pasta with a dollop of the lemon ricotta mixture, some of the remaining bread crumbs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Eat hot or at room temperature.

Derived from Candid Appetite

1497774_10200335595231062_205163012_n (2)CONTRIBUTOR

Lisa Harp owns Plat du Jour Gourmet Delivery, delivering delicious meals to businesses and individuals all over South Georgia and North Florida since 2003. She has been featured in Southern Living magazine, including the Best of the Year recipes and cookbook, as well as online and newspapers. You can learn more about her business by visiting her website at

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