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Orecchiette with Sausage and Arugula
A ragu of ground pork and wild fennel that we tasted in Sardinia served as the inspiration for this quick and easy pasta dish. Dry vermouth and citrusy lemon zest perfectly balance the richness of the Italian sausage and the pepperiness of baby arugula. Orecchiette, a coin-sized, saucer-shaped pasta, is ideal for catching flavorful bits of sausage, scallions and fennel seeds; if you can't find orecchiette, small shells and cavatelli work well, too.
pound orecchiette pasta
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
01In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain. Return the pasta to the pot.
I added a little butter, extra lemon zest, and lemon juice as a final step when making this pasta. Without those extra ingredients, I found the pasta to be a little TOO arugula-forward/bitter (and I am a major arugula lover). The butter and lemon mellowed those flavors out just enough but you still get a yummy arugula and fennel taste in every bite.
I enjoyed this recipe. I did it while learning how to use my induction stove top and learning that my pasta pot did not get to a rolling boil. Since I did not want a sludgy mess, I had to switch pasta pots midstream. Meaning the timing of everything else was pretty much thrown to the dogs. This recipe is forgiving. After switching pots and burners and reducing ad nauseum (isn't dinner ready yet) I can tell you that it was delicious. My derivations from the recipe were as follows, switched out white wine/vermouth for chicken stock with juice of half a lemon. Added juice of half a lemon at the end to brighten the flavors. The verdict? My husband, "it's okay."...damned by faint praise, my teen-aged daughter, "I don't like sausage, I will make tofu stir fry can you cut the garlic...." but the boy, my 19 year old, who probably is a super taster, said " it was good, the only suggestion I have is break down the sausage more when you brown it so it incorporates more into the sauce." He ate the arugala! Victory is mine!!!!!
A pleasantly light pasta dish - there is a nice ratio of pasta to sausage to arugula. I try to not deviate from recipes the first time I try them, but here I used twice the amount of lemon zest simply because that’s how much one of my lemons produced. I’d likely do that again, because it tasted like the ideal amount (IMO) to brighten the dish.
Thanks for another delicious recipe.