One Pot Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccolini (or broccoli, or broccoli rabe!) is an easy recipe made in – you guessed it – only one pot, with very little clean-up and more hands-off time than other pasta recipes! The pasta is added dry and cooks directly in the pot with the sausage, garlic, and onions, boosting the flavor and creating a luxuriously thick sauce from the starches. You only need a few ingredients and 30 minutes for this fuss-free recipe the whole family will love!
If you’ve never tried making a one-pot pasta recipe, there’s no time like the present. I’m telling you – unless you “like” doing dishes and multitasking like heck in the kitchen, you’re in for a real treat with this one pot orecchiette recipe!
With one pot pasta recipes, dry pasta is added to the pot along with liquid (in this case chicken broth, but you can use water if you like). The starches from the pasta all stay in the pot, rather than get dumped from draining it out of water. These starches coat every bite and thicken the sauce better than any other method for making pasta.
And while the pasta cooks, the flavor is boosted like crazy since it absorbs the flavors from everything else in the pot – in this case, Italian sausage, onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper (which is optional for a little kick).
What is broccolini?
Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable of broccoli and gai lan (also known as “Chinese Broccoli”). It is a beautiful addition that’s added at the end so it cooks to bright green, crisp-tender perfection. I love it because it keeps its shape a bit more than broccoli (which can turn mushy more easily), the stems cook well, and it has a more mild taste than broccoli. But you can use regular old broccoli if you like (frozen or fresh!) or even broccoli rabe for this one pot orecchiette recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Orecchiette – or “little ears” in Italian. You can use another small – medium pasta shape, like shells, penne, or rotini. However, if you use anything too different from the shape and thickness of Orecchiette, you may find that the liquid ratio is off and that it needs more or less cooking time, so proceed with caution with other pasta shapes. Same with whole wheat or alternatives like chickpea pasta – the cooking time and liquid ratio may be different.
- Ground Italian Sausage – I used sweet, but you can use hot if you like. If you can only find it in links, just remove the casings for this recipe – use a paring knife to slice them open and just peel them off, and add the inside to the skillet to proceed with the recipe.
- Onion and Garlic
- Crushed red pepper – this is optional. If you prefer a mild pasta, or if you are already using hot Italian sausage, just omit it.
- Chicken broth – you can use vegetable broth or even water. Add more salt if using water (and less if using a higher sodium chicken broth).
- Broccolini – cut into 1/2″ pieces, stems included. You can also use broccoli florets, preferably smaller in size, or broccoli rabe. Asparagus would also work.
How to make One Pot Orecchiette
- First, cook the sausage and onion in a large pot or Dutch oven (make sure it has a lid!), breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks. You shouldn’t need any added oil, since the sausage is pretty fatty, but if you are using a leaner option like turkey sausage I recommend adding some olive oil to the pot to prevent sticking.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté for a minute or so on lower heat until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Add the dry pasta along with some kosher salt. Give it a good stir to try to separate out the pasta as best as possible.
- Cook, covered, for 12 minutes on low heat. You can open it and stir it a couple times if you like, but it’s not required.
- Add the broccolini and stir together, then cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until pasta is cooked and broccolini is bright green and crisp-tender.
- Serve with fresh grated parmesan, cracked black pepper, and more crushed red pepper and some chopped parsley if desired.
I love using my Lodge Dutch Oven for one pot pasta recipes. It’s the best Dutch Oven I’ve found, and is a great value at a relatively low cost compared to other brands!
Because Dutch ovens are so heavy, they will keep the pasta warm for a while so you don’t have to serve it right away. And the heaviness of the lid creates a great seal that traps the steam inside (I also love using it to make no knead bread for this reason).
You can use another large pot or even a deep skillet as long as it has a lid to make this one pot orecchiette recipe.
Tips and tricks
- If the pasta seems “soupy” when it’s done, but the pasta is cooked, I recommend letting it sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes, stirring it occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it cools and as the steam releases. If this doesn’t work, you can let it simmer uncovered on low for a few minutes to allow the sauce to reduce.
- Broccolini, broccoli, frozen broccoli, and broccoli rabe have different cooking times. If using broccoli florets, you can use the same cooking time. For frozen, add one minute before the instructions indicate. For broccoli rabe (also known as Rapini), add it in only 1-2 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked.
Other one pot pasta recipes
- One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Creamy One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
- One Pot Orzo with Mushrooms, Brown Butter, and Thyme
- Manestra (Greek Orzo with Beef or Lamb and Tomato Sauce)
- One Pot Creamy Tomato Pasta with Spinach (from Britney Bakes Bread)
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One Pot Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccolini
- 1 lb. ground Italian sausage sweet or hot, casings removed if in links
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper optional, for spice (omit if using hot sausage)
- 2.5 cups chicken broth preferably low sodium, or vegetable broth, or water
- 8 oz. orecchiette or other preferred pasta shape/kind
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt more if needed
- 1 lb. broccolini cut into 1/2" pieces, (or broccoli, fresh or frozen, or broccoli rabe)
- grated parmesan, chopped parsley, and fresh cracked black pepper for serving (optional)
- Add the sausage (1 lb.) and onions to a large, deep skillet, pot, or Dutch Oven with a lid (make sure it's big enough to add the pasta in later!). Cook over medium high heat until the sausage has browned and the onions have softened, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the minced garlic (2 cloves) and crushed red pepper (1/4 teaspoon) if using. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant. If you find that some of the sausage has stuck to the bottom of the pan, add 2-4 tablespoons of water, chicken broth, or white wine to the skillet, using a wooden spoon to help dislodge any stuck-on bits.
- Add chicken broth (2.5 cups) and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, along with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (if using water, use 1 full teaspoon, and if using a chicken broth with lots of sodium, omit entirely).
- Stir, turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes (at this point, the pasta won't be entirely cooked yet). Add the broccoli, stir, cover, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, until pasta is fully cooked and broccoli has softened and turned a bright green. (If it seems a little "soupy" but the pasta is fully cooked, I recommend letting it sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes to allow it to cool, thicken, and the steam to evaporate a bit.)
- Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, fresh cracked black pepper, and a little more crushed red pepper if desired.
- You can save time by making this traditionally, without one pot. One pot pastas save on dishes and steps but take a little longer. You can cook the pasta separately in heavily salted water until 1 minute before al dente. While the pasta is cooking, sauté the sausage, onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper as directed. When the pasta is done, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the skillet along with the broccoli and 1/2 cup pasta water. Let it cook for another 3-4 minutes until the sauce has thickened, the broccoli has softened, and the pasta has finished cooking.
- If using broccoli rabe, it will likely take less cooking time, so add it in after 14 minutes and let it cook only for another 1-2 minutes.
- If using broccoli, follow the same instructions as for broccolini. If using frozen broccoli, add it 1 minute sooner.
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven