Italian Sausage, Orecchetti, and Broccoli Rabe

Italian Sausage, Oreccietti, and Broccoli Rabe.

Italian Sausage, Oreccietti, and Broccoli Rabe.

Last week was  crazy busy.  All of a sudden it seems everything cranked up leaving me wishing for the quiet days of a month ago when all I had to do was sit outside and read, sip iced tea, and dream of meal plans and menus.  Well, it was almost like that!

Anyway, I feel like I’m in over my head with a mother-in-law just in the hospital for surgery,  trying to keep Dad well fed, two birthdays, back to back, each requiring a cake,  and a husband out several evenings a week and needing an early dinner.  Plus keeping up with my dance lessons and classes.  Whew!

I’m not handling this with the ease and grace you’ve come to expect of me.  Quit laughing.  I mean it.  I can be graceful sometimes.  OK, fine.  I’m handling it with a glass of wine in my hand and complaining loudly.

But once in a while I do plan ahead, and this dish is one of my fall-back-on meals for such times.  It makes a fairly large quantity, enough to freeze a portion for another time, or enough to share, which is what I did, so I could send a nourishing meal to Dad.  It doesn’t take very long to make, and you know you’re eating a filling and healthy meal. It also reheats well in the microwave, for when people are coming and going and need to eat at different times.

All the ingredients getting cozy together to make a great meal.

All the ingredients getting cozy together make a great meal.


Yield:   6 – 8 servings


  • 1 ( 16 oz. ) package orcchiette pastaIMG_5156
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound bulk or link Italian sausage ( if using link sausage, remove casings)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2  1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed of tough stems,  (substitute broccoli if you must)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1  1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper


1.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta, and cook until al dente,  8 to 10 minutes;  drain.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir in the Italian sausage until crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Sausage crumbled and brown, add in minced garlic.

Sausage crumbled and brown, add in minced garlic.

3.  Stir in the garlic, and continue cooking until the sausage begins to brown, about 5 minutes more.  Pour off the excess grease, then pour in the chicken broth and red pepper flakes.

Chicken broth added--no pepper flakes for us.

Chicken broth added–no pepper flakes for us.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the broccoli rabe, and cover.  Cook until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 4 minutes.

Broccoli rabe added.

Broccoli rabe added.

4.  When the broccoli rabe is done, stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the meat sauce has thickened.  Toss with the pasta and serve with more cheese to grate at the table.

The light broth, butter and cheese sauce makes a nice change.

The light broth, butter and cheese sauce makes a nice change.

Served with tomato salad.  Pretty plate!

Served with tomato salad. Pretty plate!



Quick Fall Minestrone

Fall Minetsrone Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

Hit the Road, Jack!  Yep, that’s us. We’re hitting the road, going on a little vacation, going south, going to visit family, going, going, almost gone.  But before I go, I need to clean out the refrigerator, use up all the bits of veggies that are in there.  So what I’m making is a minestrone soup.  This easy soup  is made up of fresh fall vegetables, some orzo and a can of beans, making it hearty and filling.  I plan to freeze what we don’t eat so we will have it waiting for us when we get back home.  I know that after a long day on the road we will be happy to have a warming, nourishing soup to  return to.

While I’m away, posts that I have already written will be published, but I will not be available to respond to your comments for a while.  I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve prepared for the next week or so.  When I get back I hope to have some new sights, foods, and dining experiences to tell you about.

QUICK FALL MINESTRONE  (alias, Clean- out -the- refrigerator- before -I -go -on- vacation soup)

YIELD:  8  servings

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

    My ingredients differ slightly from the recipe, because of what I had to use up.

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash ( I only had about half that amount so I added about 1 cup of cauliflower florettes)
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1 cup cut-up green beans, about 1/4 pound
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot ( I used fennel instead)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups chopped greens, such as kale, spinach, broccoli rabe
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • grated fresh Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

1.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, sauté  2 1/2 minutes or until tender.  Please excuse me,  I got so caught up in this step, I forgot to photograph it.  But I’m sure you know what sautéing onions and garlic look like. 🙂

Broth and seasonings added to the sautéed vegetables.

2.  Add the broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.

Greens added; in my version I used broccoli rabe.

3.  Add greens, orzo, and beans;  cook 7 – 10 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender.

Ready for the soup bowls.

4.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese to serve.

My version of Fall Minestrone served with Cheese Quesadillas

To go along with the soup I made Cheese Quesadillas:  6 – inch flour tortillas with Monterey Jack cheese in the middle, warmed in a skillet till cheese melted.