Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

October 31, 2011 9 Comments

Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes Orecchiette Recipe

I love to try new recipes, but I get frustrated when I don’t write about them right away on my blog. I take a bunch of photos, some better than others, download them to my computer and tell myself that I’m going to write about the recipe tomorrow. Then I cook another meal, take some more pictures, download them to my computer before writing about previous recipe. Not today.

Friday night I made this quick and easy and very delicious recipe for pasta with sausage and cherry tomatoes that was so good, I wasn’t going to wait a week or two before posting for you to check out and try it yourselves.

I found this recipe while browsing the latest food and wine edition on my iPad. That’s right, I am now checking out some of my favorite cooking magazines on an electronic device and guess what? I like the new technology. I like that I will be able to store future cooking magazines electronically so I don’t end up with more boxes of partially read cooking mags that I can’t seem to throw out.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe was created by one of my favorite Philadelphia chefs, Marc Vetri. I have written about Marc many times on my website, mostly about his involvement with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity that I support that raises money to find a cure for childhood cancer, one cup at a time.

I’m guessing this recipe is in this month’s Food & Wine to promote Chef Vetri’s new cookbook, Rustic Italian Food, due to come out in November.  I can’t wait to buy a copy if only for his recipe for one of my favorite all-time pasta dishes, chicken liver rigatoni with cipolline onions and sage. Last time I spoke with Marc he told me it would be in this cookbook. If all the recipes in Rustic Italian Food are as good as the four that he offers up in Food & Wine, this cookbook may turn out to be one of my favorite Italian cookbooks.

My youngest daughter Maddie had two of her friends sleepover last night so we weren’t sure what kind of eaters they were.  I adapted Chef Marc’s recipe a little bit to make sure everyone would enjoy it. We started them off with the pasta alone with a little sauce on the side but all the girls eventually wanted more with the sauce.

I chose this recipe because we had most of the ingredients in-house including the orecchiette pasta, sausage and cherry tomatoes. We didn’t have any aged provolone cheese so I substituted freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I also didn’t add the crushed red pepper but put it on the table for anyone who cared for it and the turned out to be only me and my wife.

This recipe takes a total of 30 min. to prepare so it’s great for a weeknight meal or any time you need to put something together in a hurry. Using sausage instead of ground meat saves time because the sausage already is fully seasoned. Chef Mark uses the shredded cheese in the dish to give it a salty, creamy finish.

Pasta cooking tip – Mark says, “I always save the pasta water for thickening sauces. It should be a little cloudy from the starch”.
I like to add a little of the pasta water to my sauces too to help the sauce stick to the pasta.

Orecchiette Pasta

Orecchio is the Italian word for ear and the suffix etto means small so translated, orecchietta means small ear because someone thought that’s what these small pasta from southern Italy look like.  One of my favorite recipes featuring orecchiette is from Chef Ricco DeLuca called Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe. Check it out!

Orecchiette with Sausage and Tomatoes

Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 23 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Orecchiette with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe


1 pound orecchiette

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, without casing

1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt - to taste

2 ounces aged provolone cheese, shredded ( I used Parmesan)

How To Prepare At Home

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orecchiette pasta until al dente, but be sure to reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water to help make the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté or frying pan large enough to hold the pasta and sauce. When the oil is hot, add the sausage in 1 inch pieces and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through. This should take about 8 to 10 min. Transfer the sausage to the plate lined with paper towel.

Add another 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan, raise the heat to medium high and as soon as it gets hot, add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper. While the tomatoes are cooking, use the back of a slotted spoon to press down on them until they are slightly softened. This should take about 4 to 6 min.

Now add the reserved pasta water, scrape up any brown bits of sausage and cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Keep using the back of a slotted spoon to crush the tomatoes. This should all take about 5 to 7 min.

Add the pasta back to the pan along with the reserved sausage and the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Mix this all-together using your slotted spoon until the pasta is coated with sauce and olive oil.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cheese and serve right away in warm pasta bowls along with any side dishes. We served steamed broccoli and a nice green salad. I also had some extra grated Parmesan cheese on the table in case anybody wanted more.

This recipe will be added to my list of quick and easy recipes that I would serve again to my family or to a group of friends.


Adapted from Marc Vetri’s new cookbook Rustic Italian Food


Last modified on Wed 16 July 2014 8:46 am

Filed in: Pasta Recipes

Comments (9)

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  1. dan says:

    i have made a version of this for years. it’s not as purely italian, but i like it.

    first, i add a clove or 2 of garlic (depending on size of clove) and cook that w/the sausage. next, i sub out the parm and use smoked cheddar instead. also i stir in some steamed, al-dente broccoli rabbe when the cooked pasta is added in.

  2. JOY says:

    I’m with DAN…I can’t imagine making this recipe without GARLIC…I have also made this with different pastas..delish!! Love the broccolli rabe also 😉

  3. Meko says:

    This looks good. I like the quickness of the meal. I’m sure there are different ways of making this dish but the main thing is to enjoy it!!

  4. CK says:

    I have always loved sausage and pasta together. Last time I made something similar, I tried an organic sausage and it was amazingly good. The quality was excellent and it didn’t cost much more. I got it at the supermarket, but it was definitely a step up on the traditional supermarket sausage.

  5. leslie walker says:

    i use nawlins sausage pickled red jalapenos rotini pasta evoo n a few secret seasons its greeeeeat

  6. leslie walker says:

    i call that recipe cajun glory

  7. Jenni says:

    I love orecchiette–it’s a fun shape that holds onto lots of sauce. I see you’re going to do something w/bucatini soon. That’s another of my fave shapes–you can use it like a straw! 🙂

    As others have said, I love the simplicity of the dish and organic, sausage from pasture-raised pork is always welcome on my plate.

  8. John Levon says:

    Couldn’t find provolone or Italian sausage so used a British caramelized red onion + pork sausage, and manchego. Wrong countries but still a great result.

    I found I needed to pick out the tomato skins towards the end of cooking. Or was I supposed to skin them beforehand?

    Hi John, the skins on cherry tomatoes are very thin so no you didn’t have to skin them before hand. I’m surprised they came off since you cook this dish rather quickly. Thanks for your comments. – RG

  9. Karla Brothern says:

    I actually made this two nights ago and have been eating this for 2 nights. VERY DELICIOUS! Thank you for the post and photos.

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