Due Spaghetti, an Italian food, wine and travel blog

Orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia

We contemplated the name orecchiette as we made dinner tonight. Orecchie means “ears” in Italian, and the -ette suffix renders a word diminutive. So, orecchiette means “little ears”. One look at this rustic pasta and you will agree that its name suits it well.

Linguistic humor is a good thing.  Puns, spoonerisms, idioms, lexical ambiguity and double meanings keep things interesting and add fun to the mundane tasks of daily life. This is especially true when you are new to a country and just learning its language. We’ve had some pretty good laughs about English language phrases and expressions that Stefano has mangled.

The first couple of years we were in America, he thought that baseball players waited their turn at bat in the dog house. Eventually he learned it is actually called the dugout. “Tuesday” and “Thursday” were hard ones at the beginning, too. It’s that darn “th” sound that Italians struggle with. Until he became better at pronouncing it, those two days of the week came out sounding alike. To compensate, he’d schedule appointments and meetings for “Thursday, the one that comes after Wednesday.”

Cara has also had her share of linguistic mishaps in Italian, although perhaps because it has been so long, or perhaps because she happens to be the one writing this particular post, none are coming immediately to mind.

Some pasta names did surprise her when she lived in Italy, though. This was especially true for pasta that pokes fun at the Church. Strozzapreti are one example of this. Prete, (preti in the plural), means “priest,” while strozza means “choke.” You put it together. I mean, can you imagine telling a waiter, “I’d like some priest chokers with bolognese sauce, please.”

Compared to this, orecchiette, or “little ears” is actually kind of cute. That is, until you learn that in some parts of Italy, they are actually called orecchiette del prete, or “priest’s little ears.” There’s something unsettling about that. Orecchiette are earthy, with a rough texture and a firm bite.  I just made it worse, didn’t I?

Orecchiette pair perfectly with broccoli and sausage for a hearty, flavorful meal.

Orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia

Yield: 4-6 servings

Orecchiette are an earthy pasta from Puglia in southern Italy. Made only from semolina, water and salt, orecchiette have a rough surface and a firm bite, pairing perfectly with broccoli and sausage for a hearty, flavorful meal.


  • 1 medium head of broccoli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • Salt
  • 1 package (450-500 grams) orecchiette
  • Parmigiano Reggiano


  1. Cut the crown of the broccoli into small pieces, and boil in salted water for 3-4 minutes.
  2. While the broccoli is boiling, dice the garlic and sauté it in olive oil in a large saucepan pan until golden brown.  If you like heat, add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
  3. Add the ground pork and let it simmer, crumbling it as it cooks.
  4. When the broccoli is tender, drain and add it to the ground pork.
  5. Allow it to simmer together, stirring from time to time until the broccoli becomes soft and deconstructs. Salt to taste.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add a handful of coarse salt to it.
  7. Boil the orecchiette according to the directions on the package for al dente
  8. Drain the pasta and add it to the saucepan with the broccoli and sausage. Stir over medium heat for a minute or two until the pasta is evenly coated.
  9. Serve immediately, with grated Parmigiano on top.

2 thoughts on “Orecchiette con broccoli e salsiccia”

  1. love it, love it, love it! I have to try doing the sauce with broccoli and sausage! I always do broccoli and anchovies or broccoli and bacon, but this looks outstanding! Will try as soon as we run out of summer vegetables 🙁

  2. We tried this dish last night, and it was very nice until we added 1/2 a brick of cream cheese to the mixture, then it was AMAZING!

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Due Spaghetti

Travel around with me and discover different cultures, gain new experiences, try unique food and enjoy what the world has to offer.

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