ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE & BROCCOLI RABE

Aaahhh…..is there anything better than pasta for dinner? I think not! Know what makes it even better? Homemade sausage made by our friends.

We were recently sent some homemade sausage from our friends in Connecticut. Their son, now an avid hunter, brings home all sorts of game. Our friends, in true Italian fashion, make their own sausage. They shipped it to us along with some other goodies. I can not tell you how excited we were to receive it. Tonight, it became part of our dinner.

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I would like to elaborate just a little bit about their son. An American soldier, he was wounded 2 times in Afghanistan and lucky enough to return home. Unfortunately, he suffered from PTSD, or, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He credits his continued recovery to the love of his wife, family, and now, love of hunting.  He was having difficulty when he returned home, and starting shutting himself away. His wife gave him a compound bow. He said he had no idea what to do with it. His wife said “you’re a soldier, you should know what to do.” With that, he started taking walks in the woods and began hunting.  He commented “hunting saved my life. It has such an impact on the human spirit.”

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I personally thank God every day for our military. I thank the military for my freedom. I thank him and his family for the wonderful sausage. This is a very special meal for the Del Grosso household tonight. We send a special prayer and a salute to all those who serve and protect. May God bless and keep all of you!

While I can’t share the sausage with you; I can share the recipe. You can use any type of Italian sausage that you like. Typically I would have used a lean Italian  turkey sausage. If you have a favorite then use that. Whatever type of sausage you use, this dish will be wonderful.

Orecchiette is pasta. It’s name means little ear and is indeed shaped like an ear. It is pretty easy to find in most groceries. You can find it online at Amazon.com. If you are lucky enough to have an Italian market they will have it.

Broccoli rabe is also called rapini. Broccoli rabe has a slightly bitter taste. The crowns, leaves, and stems are all edible. It is in the same family as the turnip. If you can’t find broccoli rabe you can use kale. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Cook it as instructed for the broccoli rabe.

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ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, washed and 2″ trimmed off the stems
  • 1 lb lean Italian sausage, removed from casing (your favorite brand)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 oz orecchiette
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the washed broccoli rabe in quarters. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Add the broccoli rabe and let cook for 1 1/2 minutes, remove to the side with a slotted spoon. DO NOT DUMP THE WATER.
  2. Bring the water back to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. (Al-dente works well here, about 8-9 minutes) Drain.
  3. In a large deep saute’ pan, brown the sausage on medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces. When completely cooked remove and set to the side.
  4. Add olive oil to the pan and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, DO NOT BURN! This step will take seconds.
  5. Return the broccoli rabe to the pan, mixing well with the garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 1 minute.
  6. Return the sausage to the pan and mix well.
  7. Add the drained pasta to the broccoli rabe and sausage. Reduce the heat and stir for about 30 seconds.
  8. Add the chicken broth, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using). Adjust the salt and pepper and toss another minute so that everything is mixed well and coated in the sauce.
  9. Remove from the heat and divide into 6 pasta bowls.

Additional grated cheese can be added if desired.

Til next time

Ciao xoxo

Photo courtesy of: Barbara Migliaro

Photography: Joseph and Vickie Del Grosso

SHRIMP SCAMPI OVER ZOODLES

I promise I won’t zoodle you to death. This one was too good not to post though. It’s like a new toy at the moment. I am truly fascinated with my new spiralizer by Kitchen Aid.

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I love shrimp scampi. What I don’t like about it is all the butter and oil dripping from it. This is a healthy alternative. It is also made in one pan so clean up is a breeze.

I will suggest that you gather and prepare all of your ingredients prior to cooking this. It goes really fast. You will be throwing everything into the pan in  a matter of minutes.

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My zucchini were approximately  (*9-10 inches) in length. I washed them, left the skin on, cut off the ends, and spiralized them.

You can use fresh or frozen shrimp that have been thawed. Mine was frozen because that is what I had on hand. Either, will work well.

I don’t like big chunks of garlic in my sauces. I started using a microplane to grate it. I find it requires little to no cooking time. It will appear to melt right into your sauce. Just be careful not to burn it. As soon as you smell it, add your other ingredients. You could use a food processor or a knife. Any method would be fine. It all depends on how you like your garlic! You just don’t want it burned!!!

This really pairs well with a bottle of white wine. A loaf of crusty French bread is good for dipping in the sauce.

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SHRIMP SCAMPI OVER ZOODLES

  • Servings: 4
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp of finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane
  • 1 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C of chicken stock
  • 1/4 C of good white wine
  • Zest of one lemon and it’s juice
  • Zucchini noodles from 4 zucchini (*see note above)
  • 6-7 Basil leaves, julienned
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano/Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Assemble and prepare all of your ingredients.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onion and cook until softened.
  4. Add the garlic, shrimp, red pepper flakes, and salt and black pepper to taste. Saute until the shrimp are just starting to turn pink but still translucent.
  5. Add the chicken broth, white wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the shrimp are pink, and opaque.
  6. Stir in the zucchini noodles and toss with the shrimp and sauce until everything is well coated with the sauce.
  7. Cook until the noodles are al-dente (slight crunch). DO NOT OVER COOK them or they will be too soft and no longer the consistency of a noodle.
  8. Remove from the heat and taste for seasonings. Sprinkle the basil and the grated cheese on top and serve.

Manga!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo