Total Prep & Cook Time: 1 hr
Dishes Dirtied: 12 (15 if you include the garlic bread we had on the side)
Verdict: Try again with tweaks
I’m a big fan of Taco Tuesday, but lately I think we’ve been in a recipe rut. As in, not just Taco Tuesday, but also Taco Thursday, Taco Friday, Taco Saturday…well, you get the idea. While I’m working on the weekly menu and grocery list on Sunday morning, I ask the kids what they want for dinners for the week. And I usually get tacos as a suggestion. I’m all about the tacos and have a crockpot chicken tacos recipe I want to try out someday, but the way we typically eat our tacos (in a flour tortilla with cheese, sour cream and refried beans), we don’t typically get in a lot of fruits or veggies. So I’m always on the lookout for a simple, easy-to-make weeknight meal that includes a veggie that kids can actually handle eating.
When I saw a recipe for Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli in my weekly email from Once Upon a Chef, I felt the need to give it a try. 5-star reviews and a 25-minute cooking time? Yes! Let’s do this!
The original recipe calls for orecchiette pasta, which is all fine and good except when you are on a budget and can only find one choice for orecchiete and it isn’t the one that is on sale. So tofette was my choice because, well…it looked a lot like the orecchiette in size and shape. And it was on sale. I’m all about saving some money these days.
The recipe also calls for sweet italian sausage. I’m a bit of a additive snob and the options for italian sausage at my grocery store all had high fructose corn syrup and MSG and other things that I try to avoid. So I chose this Johnsonville All Natural Mild Italian Sausage. I thought that if I needed to I could just add sugar in some form to sweeten the sausage. I did a bit of research after I got home to figure out what sort of sweetening I needed to do and discovered that sweet Italian sausage doesn’t necessarily have sugar in it. Huh. One of those weird misnomers in the food world. So I stuck with the mild sausage as is.
And then I had a hard time finding Pecorino Romano in the grocery store. But I’ll admit that I was freezing to death in the store and not really feeling like looking too hard. I get that certain sections of the grocery store will be cold because the items stored there need to be cold. But when the whole store is so cold that you need to pack a jacket for shopping (even in summer) it’s just too much.
Anyhoo, no Pecorino Romano so I opted for this 3-cheese blend of Romano, Parmesan and Asiago.
And I’m too lazy to mince my own garlic. So I go with the minced garlic in a jar.
Everything else was by the book – I SWEAR! No other subs!
Cook time for the recipe is 25 minutes, which may be the case if you’re familiar with the recipe or just really awesome with managing your time. I’m not either of those, so it was closer to 1 hour. I’ll admit – I was held up by the pasta and that was my fault. I didn’t start the water early enough and that held me up.
Both kids ate it and The Boy even said that the broccoli didn’t taste bad in it. WIN!! We’ll definitely try it again with a few tweaks.
TWEAK #1: The recipe calls for a LOT of added fats. 5 tablespoons of oil, plus 3 tablespoons of butter. On top of all the fat in that pork sausage. It was pretty greasy when the meal came together and I think I only used 4 tablespoons of oil. Next time I’ll cut back on the oil a bit – and maybe on the butter as well.
TWEAK #2: The sausage seems to carry all the flavor of the dish. The pasta part needs a bit more oomph. I added a bit of garlic powder at the end because the pasta was a bit plain. That helped a bit. I think I’ll crank up the garlic and red pepper flakes a bit.
TWEAK #3: Maybe we’ll actually try to get the Pecorino Romano or some Parmigiano Reggiano (the other suggested cheese in the recipe).
Anything that gets these kids eating their veggies is worth trying more than once to get it right. And the recipe is simple enough that once I get it figured out it should be pretty close to the 25 minutes for getting it made, which makes this busy working momma happy.