I was sure I’d created a winning recipe. But it was not to be …
You see Johnsonville was running a contest in partnership with Tastespotting earlier this fall and I submitted this Orecchiette “Paella” with Italian Sausage recipe to them and although I still think it’s a winner, it didn’t make the cut.
No worries. But I do hope I can persuade you to try it soon. Make it as is, or use any sausage or pasta you prefer. Just make sure the pasta is one that will sop up all the flavorful sauce that comes to fruition when you cook this dish. I loved using the orecchiette because it acted as a little “bowl” in which the sauce pooled and packed a ton of flavor. My son refers to orecchiette as little “autakia,” that’s Greek for ears! They do look a bit like small ears …
If you want to overload on carbs–exactly as we did–keep some crusty bread nearby to dip into whatever sauce your pasta shapes don’t retain. Seriously … this sauce is that good! Knowing that this recipe tasted just as good to you will keep it a winner in my book, so do try it and be sure to let me know what you think. And I am sending this dish over to Ruth‘s Presto Pasta Nights celebrating its 200th edition and hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours this special week. Kali Orexi!
Orecchiette “Paella” with Sausage and Clams
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 lb. orecchiette pasta
12 littleneck clams
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 star anise
1/4 cup warm water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 oz. bottle of clam juice
1/2 cup pasta cooking water, if necessary
Additional parsley for serving
Place saffron and star anise in 1/4 cup warm water and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and begin squeezing sausage from casings into the hot skillet. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage to a bowl once browned and set aside.
Heat olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion, finely chopped parsley and garlic. Sauté until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes. Simmer for just under 5 minutes or until almost all tomato juices have evaporated. Stir in tomato paste, paprika and saffron/star anise mixture. Season with salt and pepper — make sure to remove the star anise at this point.
Add the clam juice to the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Place clams into the sauce and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until the clams have opened. Stir in the sausage.
Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook orecchiette until tender, about 10 minutes. Once done, using a slotted spoon add pasta to the sauce with clams and sausage. Toss gently to coat the pasta with sauce and add the 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid as necessary. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve.