Orecchiette with garlic butter is a light, yet hearty pasta recipe that’s oh so full of flavor! Ground sausage, spinach, and orecchiette are covered in a mouthwatering garlic butter and parmesan sauce that is sure to make your mouth water.
Garlic Butter Orecchiette
Craving pasta but a little bored of the standard tomato or alfredo based sauces? Well I’ve got a recipe for you that’ll get you out of that store-bought sauce rut… I give you garlic butter orecchiette! Don’t let the fancy name fool you, this dish is prepped in about 10 minutes and on the table in under half an hour. Flavorful Italian sausage is browned to perfection and gets tossed with fresh spinach and al dente pasta all covered in a garlic butter and parmesan sauce that’s simply to die for. Add some red pepper flakes for a little spice, top with extra cheese, and complete with a fresh green salad and some breadsticks for a restaurant quality meal right at home.
What is orecchiette?
Orecchiette is a type of pasta that looks similar to shells but is slightly different in shape. Orecchiette is closer to a concave disk while shells are curved inward. It actually gets its name for being shaped kind of like an ear. Of course if you can’t find orecchiette in your local grocery store you can substitute for another pasta. Shells, farfalle, fusilli, any slightly thicker cut pasta will work for this kind of dish!
How To Make Garlic Butter Orecchiette
- Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add the orecchiette pasta and cook for about 8 minutes. You want to cook it just to al dente. Don’t forget to salt your water! Once done, reserve one cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- Cook the sausage. As your pasta boils, crumble and cook the Italian sausage until browned. Drain the grease and set aside.
- Melt the butter. Place the skillet back on the heat and melt the butter. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds. Add in the spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes until the spinach is dark green.
- Combine the parmesan and pasta water. Stir 1 tablespoon of pasta water into the parmesan. Stir to create a thin sauce like consistency.
- Add the pasta back to the pan. Toss the pasta, remaining pasta water in the pan. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until the garlic butter sauce begins to stick to the pasta. Remove the pan from heat and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir in the parmesan sauce and mix until combined.
- Add the sausage. Add in the cooked sausage, place the pan back on the burner for 2 minutes and stir until everything is combined and heated through.
- Garnish. Garnish with some extra grated parmesan cheese and fresh oregano leaves. Serve and enjoy.
Recipe Notes for Garlic Butter Orecchiette
- Parmesan – Use freshly grated for better taste and easier mixing. Freshly grated cheeses will melt much better than the pre shredded variety.
- Garlic – You can always use more garlic if you prefer.
- Italian sausage – Mild or spicy work in this recipe, just depends on what you prefer. If you aren’t a fan of sausage you could use ground turkey or chicken. You may want to up the seasoning to taste.
- Pasta – If you can’t find orecchiette you can substitute for farfalle or fusilli pasta.
- Storing Orecchiette for Later – This will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat for 1-2 minutes in the microwave, stirring halfway through.
Garlic Butter Orecchiette
- Salt and boil a large pot of water then add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
- Once cooked, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest then set the pasta aside for later.
- While the pasta boils, crumble and cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until brown.
- Drain the grease and set the sausage aside for later.
- Wipe out any excess grease from the skillet then place it back on the heat and melt the butter.
- Cook the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and follow it with the spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until the spinach is dark green and soft, about 3 minutes.
- Stir 1 tablespoon of pasta water into the parmesan until it is a drizzly consistency, I used about ¼ cup.
- Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining pasta water for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce starts to emulsify and stick to the pasta.
- Move the pan off the burner and let it sit for 2 minutes then stir and toss in the parmesan sauce until fully combined.
- Add the sausage and place the skillet back on the burner for 2 minutes until everything is well incorporated and heated through.
- Serve with grated parmesan cheese and fresh oregano leaves for garnish if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.