How to make a good pasta dish with 5 ingredients, according to the chef

  • As an experienced chef and cooking teacher, I love making this easy meal.
  • This pasta dish only requires five key ingredients and can easily be vegan.
  • The recipe includes orecchiettes, sausages and broccoli rabe.

Pasta is as much about sauce as it is about shape, which is why I love the combination in one of my favorite dishes: orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe.

This is one of those dishes that seems too easy to be indulgent and too healthy to please everyone, but somehow does all of the above.

a bowl of pasta with cheese and greens

I think orecchiette goes well with sausage.

Alissa Fitzgerald

Each piece of orecchiette, which literally means “little ears”, is traditionally pressed with the belly of a knife and bent to produce those telltale wrinkles.

Orecchiette has a nice cup shape. Plus, its dough is simply a mix of durum wheat and water, so the recipe below is easily vegan if you use a meat substitute and omit the cheese.

You can also use any sausage for this recipe.

crumbled cooked sausage in a pan

Be sure to remove your sausage from its casing.

Alissa Fitzgerald

I like to use the noticeably bitter broccoli rabe for the complexity it adds, but you can substitute it with broccoli or broccolini.

When cradled between cups of pasta, drizzled with sausage and its fat, and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano, the bitter flavor of broccoli rabe becomes dynamic and textural in a truly exciting way.

green vegetables and pasta in a pan

You can replace the broccoli with something else if you like.

Alissa Fitzgerald

Frankly, I think anything would taste great when paired with orecchiettes and broccoli.


  • 3-4 sausages of your choice
  • ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1-inch segments
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta


  1. Remove the casing from the sausage.
  2. Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage and chili flakes and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the sausage so the fat melts. Increase the heat to medium until golden brown, then turn off the heat.
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 12 minutes until just under al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water for the final sauce.
  5. Add the broccoli rabe and stir. Set a timer for about two minutes or until the broccoli rabe and orecchiette are both just cooked through.
  6. Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe in a colander, then add to the pan with the browned sausages. Add ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a little reserved cooking water. Mix with pasta and broccoli rabe.
  7. Serve in individual bowls with additional shredded or grated Parma cheese for garnish.