Orecchiette - small ears - are one of our favorite pasta shapes. They are shaped like the shell of a turtle, or like a thumbprint in pasta form. They scoop up sauce and catch it in their rough ridges, which makes them perfect for hearty winter meat stews.
Here's a recipe for a simple sausage meat sauce with red, spicy chorizo to give it some heat. Chorizo tends to strongly flavor anything it's cooked with, and we love how it flavors this sauce - sage complements it well, too. The little orecchiette hold the sausage crumbles close and soak up the sauce - we didn't have any left afterwards!
Orecchiette with Chorizo and Sage
1 pound orecchiette pasta Olive oil 1 pound chorizo sausage 1 large white onion, diced 4 cloves of garlic, minced 8-10 large fresh sage leaves Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional) 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 1 cup red wine
Heat a large, heavy pot or deep sauté pan over medium high heat. Drizzle in a little olive oil. Slit the chorizo sausage in half lengthwise and crumble the meat out of the casings into the pan. Cook until browned - about 8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened. Mince half the sage and add too.
When the onion and garlic are cooked and fragrant, add the tomatoes and wine and cover. Simmer until dinner - ideally at least half an hour. Less is OK, and longer is great. The longer you cook it the more it will taste of the smoked paprika in the chorizo.
Heat another pot of water to boiling and add a teaspoon of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the orecchiette for 11-13 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the pasta shapes from sticking to one another. Drain and serve hot with the sauce and a side of greens.