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Orecchiette with Sardinian Sausage Ragu

4 to 6 Servings

35 minutes

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Saffron gives this simple Sardinian ragu lots of character. The spice’s unique, vaguely floral, slightly minerally flavor pairs beautifully with the sausage, tomatoes and salty pecorino, but since saffron is a somewhat rarified ingredient, we’ve kept it optional. Even without, the dish is delicious. Our favorite pasta for this recipe is orecchiette, a coin-sized, saucer-shaped noodle that does an excellent job of catching the bits of sausage. Small shells and campanelle work well, too. If you can find pecorino Sardo, a sheep's milk cheese from Sardinia, use it in place of pecorino Romano; it has a milder, slightly smoky flavor and adds complexity to the dish.

4 to 6



Don't use canned tomato sauce instead of tomato puree. The former contains seasonings such as salt and garlic powder; the latter is made from only tomatoes. Also, don't worry if the sauce is ready ahead of the orecchiette; it won't suffer if it waits a few minutes off heat while the pasta finishes.

35 minutes



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Prem B.
April 6, 2023
great recipe game changer
Michael M.
April 2, 2023
Notes of Paella
The saffron made this dish have notes of flavor unlike any Italian dish I have ever had. Sardinians are probably rolling their eyes at me; I deserve that. Now I am going to explore more of their cooking. Thanks MS!!
Lizzie E.
March 20, 2023
Loved it
The saffron gives a little extra zip that takes the recipe above a standard Red Sauce
Peter S.
March 16, 2023
How to stop the burning
Place the water and pasta at the bottom of the pot, then the meat, then the tomato purée. Do not stir. It does not burn if you do this.
Peter S.
February 27, 2023
Delicious recipe, but ALWAYS burns in InstantPot
I have tried increasing the amount of water, even doubling it, to no avail. I have tried deglazing the pot before pressurizing. Nothing seems to work. I wait for the burn message, cancel, release pressure, scrape the bottom, restart the pressure cooker. After four or five cycles the dish is cooked, but surely there is a better way!
Mary S.

Hi! I just opened an account and would appreciate knowing how the clipboard works. I click on it and it responds that I've saved to the clipboard but I can't find the clipboard! When I type it in various search bars I always get a "not found" response.

Janelle C.

Hi Mary,

The "clipboard" is a copy and paste function. For example, if you were heading to the store to purchase ingredients you could copy the list to your "clipboard" and paste it within another note-taking app on your cellular device. This way you don't have to wait for the site to load while you're at the supermarket to view the ingredients. Hope this helps!

The Milk Street Team

Kim P.

I've made this several times now, and it's always a huge hit. I do find that I need more tomato puree so I've been using a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, and the rest of the recipe I follow to the letter. The saffron is a great addition.

John B.

Hi Mary,
If you are using your computer to read the recipe, the "clipboard" is just the same as the "copy" command (command-c on a Mac, control-c in Windows.) When you press the Copy To Clipboard, it goes to the same temporary memory in your computer. When you want to paste that information into some sort of document (Word or any other), simply go to that document, put the cursor where you want the list of ingredients to land, and press command-v (Macs) or control-v (Doze). If you're using a smart phone, you're on your own. My phone is dumb as a door knob. Good luck!

Jennifer B.

fabulous, arguably one of the best pastas I've ever made or eaten. you need to have excellent sausage and cheese. and yes, I splurged on passato.

Shawn & Eileen B.

You put wine into hot oil? I made this and just before I added the wine, I did a double take. I was right it was a splatterfest. In turned off the heat added the tomatoes and continued. The flavors were great, but I don’t understand how that step is supposed to work.

Lynn C.

Hi Shawn and Eileen -

I believe the expectation is that the majority of the oil will have absorbed during the cooking of the garlic but, yes, there may be a little left that will cause some splattering.

The Milk Street Team

Chris W.

I made this out of your Fast & Slow cook book and I have never made a recipe w/o browning the meat first. I hope I don't get sick???

Lynn C.

Hi Chris -

No worries. We don't need to brown the meat in the pressure cooker but that has no impact on safety. Hope you enjoyed it!

The Milk Street Team

David S.

I have made this a number of times as it is and with great results. I tried the Fast and Slow version but I just don't like it. It doesn't seem as flavorful, I had a hard time with burning with the Instant Pot. I've been playing with making my own bulk sausage with different recipes and it's always great, even though the Italian sausage recipes do vary by quite a lot.

Mary S.

This is was a game changer for me. I'm a purist, and cooking a pasta dish in the instant pot felt really wrong, but I'm so glad I tried it. Pasta was cooked perfectly and the sausage rendered it's fat into the ragu. I completely forgot that it wasn't browned first. I didn't have any orecchiette, so I used Whole Foods Pipe Rigate. Huge hit and kids asked to take leftovers for school lunch:)