One of my favorite days in cooking school was the day we learned how to make fresh pasta. I love the process of getting your hands dirty with flour, water and egg. I also love that you can create such amazing dishes that all start with these simple everyday ingredients.
When we first learned how to make orecchiette I was obsessed. Orecchiette is Italian for “little ear” because of the shape of the pasta. I favor orecchiette over other types of pasta because of the chewiness. Made with semolina and water, orecchiette has this delicious bite to it that makes it feel heartier.
Since homemade orecchiette is pretty easy, I was making it all the time. Now that I am not in cooking school and working full time, I have less time to make fresh pasta at home, but my love for orecchiette has not faded.
In this delicious one-pot pasta dish, I have paired orecchiette with tomatoes, eggplant, Italian sausage, mozzarella and mint. Totally delicious and satisfying. If you can’t find Japanese eggplant, swap for a regular eggplant. The same goes for the golden balsamic. I prefer golden balsamic over regular balsamic because it not as overpowering, but this is totally your preference, as well as what you have in your house.
Enjoy! ~ Amanda
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
¼ cup olive oil
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into ½” thick half rounds
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cloves garlic
½ c balsamic vinegar (preferably golden balsamic)
½ cup olive oil
½ lb dried orecchiette pasta
4 oz mozzarella
Garnish with red pepper flakes, handful of torn mint and Parmesan cheese
1.) In a medium size pot, cook the orecchiette according to the directions on the box. When pasta is cooked through strain, and set aside.
2.) In a the same pan over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook sausage until brown, breaking it up into small pieces. Remove sausage, place on towel lined plate and set aside. In the same pan, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and add eggplant and tomatoes and sauté until eggplant is browned and tomatoes have wilted slightly. Remove from pan and set aside.
3.) In the same pan, sauté garlic for 30 seconds then return sausage, eggplant, and the tomatoes to the pot and cook for 30 seconds. Carefully pour vinegar into the bottom of pan and cook over medium high until vinegar has reduced by half. Add orecchiette, mozzarella pepper flakes and top with mint. Toss well.
4.) Taste for salt, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
Serves 2 to 4
Recipe & Photos by Amanda Frederickson for Sacramento Street