Paccheri with Mint Pesto, Roast Broccoli and Tuscan Sausage
The base of this recipe is a simple pasta with pesto sauce. However, by using a few simple ingredients and techniques we can elevate this simple meal into something special. For a detailed explanation on how to make the pesto and customize it to your tastes check out this article before continuing.
The roast broccoli and sausage combination in this recipe work really great together: the savouriness from the sausage adds a lot of richness to the dish while the broccoli adds bitterness, depth and more texture. I opted for a mildly flavoured, sweet and porky Italian sausage but feel free to substitute for any of your favourite fresh or semi-dried sausages. I finished the dish with some flaked almonds which I had toasted while making the pesto but feel free to leave them out if you don’t have any at hand. I like adding more texture to my pasta dishes, especially when they’re ingredients I’m already using in part of the recipe.
I chose paccheri as my pasta shape of choice because the dish has plenty of chunky pieces of sausage and broccoli. The large, tubular pasta shape eats well with these bite-sized chunks but most other short pasta shapes would work here also. Something like fusilli or penne would be a great way to hold on to all of the pesto sauce.
A plate of pasta with pesto is an easy meal to put together for the weeknights when you get home late from work.If you freeze most of your batch, you have the option of slowly defrosting a portion in the fridge the night before. If you didn’t have enough foresight and want a quick meal, take the frozen sauce out of your fridge, break it into a few pieces with your knives or hands and fold it through your warm pasta along with a splash of pasta water until sauce. You can jazz things up a little bit further with little effort and produce something to impress your friends and family like in LINK OTHER ARTICLE HERE. ) which is incredibly delicious and requires little effort to put together. Pesto can also be used as a flavourful spread to a sandwich, as a flavourful seasoning for a grain or pasta salad, as a sauce for a piece of meat or some vegetanles and as part of a dressing for a simple salad.
- 400g Italian sausage
- 300g of Mint Pesto (or 2 heaped tbsp per person)
- 400g Paccheri, dried
- 1-2 medium heads of broccoli
- Plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano and Extra virgin olive oil to finish
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Chopping board and knife
- Baking tray lined with baking paper
- Large pot
- Saute pan
- Strainer, sieve or colander
- Mixing bowl
- Fine cheese grater, preferably microplane
- Rubber spatula
1. For the Broccoli, begin by preheating your oven to 190C. Remove the florets from the broccoli and cut into bite-sized pieces. Quarter the stem through the centre and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add all of the broccoli to a mixing bowl, toss with plenty of salt and olive oil. Taste them before they go into the oven to check for seasoning, if they taste good enough to eat raw it means they’re good enough to but thrown in the oven. Accept no less.
The stem of the broccoli is totally edible and super delicious. It has a firmer texture than the florets and will take slightly longer to cook. Cut into smaller pieces or thin slices and cook in the same way you would cook the florets.
2. Lay the broccoli out on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure that the tray isn’t too crowded or the broccoli will not roast properly. Use two trays if necessary. Place the broccoli into the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until tender with some nice charred marks.
When roasting veggies like this it’s never a bad idea to prepare twice as much as you need. Roasting broccoli for pasta today? Why not set yourself up for a broccoli, cheddar and sausage omelette for tomorrow’s lunch?
3. For the sausage, make a small incision with a knife along the sausage skin and carefully unwrap them, leaving just the sausage meat. Place a saute pan over medium-high heat and add a light drizzle of olive oil.
4. Once the pan is hot, break up the sausage into small pieces about the size of a heaped teaspoon with your fingers. With your hands push them down onto the pan with at least a centimetre or two of space in between them. You do not want to crowd the pan as this will prevent the sausage from browning, cook them in multiple batches if needs be.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes without turning until a deep brown crust forms on the bottom of the pan. Turn over each piece of sausage and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side until equally browned. Remove from the pan and place in a mixing bowl. Repeat until all of your sausage is cooked.
6. Drain the oil from the saute pan and deglaze with roughly 100ml of water. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes or until a lovely brown, concentrated and flavourful liquid is left, roughly half of the original volume.
Those crispy browned bits stuck on the bottom of your pan after you sear meat or vegetables is what chefs refer to as fond. It’s an integral part of making sauces because of just how much colour and flavour is trapped in this stuff. Whenever possible try to incorporate this into the dish instead of washing the pan out!
7. To serve, place a pot of water over high heat and bring up to the boil with a generous pinch of salt, roughly half a tablespoon per litre for well-salted water. Once at a rolling boil, add your pasta and immediately stir gently so the paccheri don’t stick to one another.
8. Cook for whatever the packet of dried pasta you’re using recommends for an al dente finish but start tasting your pasta 2 minutes before it should be ready. You want it to be firm but you don’t want crunch in your pasta.
9. t this point, drain your pasta through a sieve or colander before putting it back in the pot your were cooking it in and adding your sausages and any of their liquid. Stir to coat in the liquid until the liquid clings on to the sauce. Add the broccoli to the pot and gently warm through.
10. In a mixing bowl large enough to fit all of the pasta, add your pesto. Add the pasta and sausage, and stir to coat with a rubber spatula. We do not want to add the pesto directly to the pot because we want to avoid heating up the pesto too much to keep the colour and flavour vibrant.
11. Serve immediately (although this is also delicious served cold) and finish with plenty of grated parmesan as well as cracked black pepper, a drizzling of quality extra virgin olive oil and some roasted and flaked almonds if you have them.
If you found the tips in this article useful and are hungry to discover more chef secrets you can download my free ebook, Pantry Essentials for Maximum Flavour by clicking here. Stock yourself with these flavour bombs and learn to season like a chef to turn even the most mundane of meals into exceptional ones!