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Orecchiette con finocchio e salsiccia

Orecchiette with Roasted Fennel & Sausage

Orecchiette (Italian orecchia, meaning "ear", and -etta, meaning "small") is a variety of home-made pasta typical of Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.

Adapted from David Tanis, The New York Times

Orecchiette con finocchio e salsiccia



  • 2 large bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Two 4-ounce spicy Italian sausage links, casing removed

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or smashed

  • ¼ cup white wine, such as pinot grigio

  • 16 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly strips

  • 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained

  • 16 ounces orecchiette pasta

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

  • 1 cup grated parmigiana reggiano

  • 1 cup of the pasta water


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400º F. 

  2. Toss the fennel, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Arrange the fennel in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until golden and tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the sauce:  

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces using a wooden spoon. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until all of the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.  Fold in the tomatoes, capers and fennel.

Cook the pasta:  

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. 

  2. Using a strainer transfer the orechiette to the sauce. Toss until all ingredients are coated, adding pasta water to make it saucy as needed.

  3. Turn off the heat, and fold in the parsley and half the cheese.  Serve with the remaining cheese on the side.

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