This Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe is a delicious pasta dish that can be made in 30 minutes—it's healthier with turkey sausage.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Orecchiette – these “little ears” collect all of the great flavours of this dish, but you can use any shape of pasta you like.
- Broccoli rabe – if the broccoli rabe is too bitter for you or if you can’t find it in the store, use baby broccoli, spinach, chard or mustard greens instead.
- Ground turkey – you could also make the sausage using ground pork.
- Fennel seeds – ground fennel would also work if you don’t have any fennel seeds on hand.
- Paprika – cayenne would be the best substitute here.
- Onion powder – finely minced onion or even garlic powder can be used instead.
- Salt & pepper – to taste.
- Olive oil – or any neutral cooking oil like canola oil or avocado oil.
- Garlic – you can use garlic flakes or powder instead but you may sacrifice on a bit of flavour.
- Chicken broth – vegetable broth would also work.
- Lemon juice and lemon zest – white wine brings brightness to the dish if you don’t have any lemon on hand.
- Parmesan cheese – don’t give up the cheese! Asiago or Romano cheese will add the same rich creaminess and tang that parmesan does.
- Chili flakes – if you don’t want the extra heat, leave the chili flakes out altogether.
How to make orecchiette
Step 1: Make the turkey sausage.
Mix together the fennel seeds, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper and ground turkey to make the turkey sausage.
Step 2: Cook the pasta.
Step 3: Add the broccoli rabe.
Add the broccoli rabe to the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Step 4: Cook the turkey sausage.
Brown the turkey sausage in a pot, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Step 5: Add everything to the pot.
Add the pasta and broccoli rabe back to the pot, along with the remaining ingredients. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy!
Serve with extra parmesan cheese and chili flakes and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you can't find orecchiette at your grocery store, you can substitute it for any other pasta shape of your choice.
Pasta is al dente when it has a bit of a bite to it without being mushy. I suggest checking the cooking instructions on the package, but typically orecchiette will need to cook for 7-9 minutes.
Broccoli rabe is meant to be mostly stems, so don’t cut them all off; every part is edible. For this orecchiette with broccoli rabe, you’ll want to clean the broccoli rabe and separate any long stems that are connected. Then, cut off any ends that may have turned brown. Make your cuts up to 1 inch from the bottom of the stems.
If you want to make this orecchiette pasta as a vegetarian recipe, you can leave out the homemade sausage or swap it out for a can of drained white beans like navy beans or cannellini beans. You'll also need to substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
This recipe is super customizable, so you can add in any other veggies of your choice. Feel free to add in some halved cherry tomatoes, spinach or kale, mushrooms and more. Anything you'd normally enjoy in your pasta can be added to this dish!
Storing and reheating
You can keep any leftover orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, sprinkle some water over top so the pasta doesn’t dry out then microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add on some fresh parmesan and the dish will be as good as new!
Freezing this recipe
This orecchiette is definitely freezer-friendly! After it’s cooked, you can store it in airtight glass containers or freezer-safe bags for up to 3 months. If you plan on freezing this dish for later, I recommend cooking the orecchiette to just under al dente. That way, when you reheat it, it will cook through the rest of the way and won’t get all mushy.
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Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
- 1 lb oreccheitte
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp each salt & pepper, divided
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 7-9 minutes. Add broccoli rabe in the last 2 minutes of cook time then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, mix fennel seeds, paprika, onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper with ground turkey in a large bowl.
- Heat olive oil in the same pot, then add ground turkey mixture, breaking up with a spoon. Cook for 5 minutes until browned. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add pasta and broccoli rabe back to pot, then add chicken broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper, parmesan cheese and chili flakes, sauteeing for another 2 minutes.
- Serve with extra parmesan cheese and chili flakes and enjoy!