Welcome to Day 4 of my meal plan week, where we’re making orecchiette pasta! In case you haven’t been following, here are Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. This week, I’m posting easy real-life meals where each one leads into the next, making cook/prep time a breeze. This is the way I love to cook – it’s fun, it’s flexible, and I hope it helps inspire your own meal planning. And speaking of meal planning, here’s a shameless plug for our new meal journal, The Love & Lemons Meal Record & Market List, which is a handy tool to help you organize your meals.
Now that we’re later in the week… pasta!! Why? Because pasta is fun, and it’s the perfect vehicle to use up bits and bobs of leftover vegetables. I also always have it in the pantry. I chose orecchiette pasta for this recipe because orecchiette, broccoli, and sausage are a classic combo. I skipped the sausage, of course, but I love how this pasta shape scoops up the chickpeas and mirrors the round Brussels sprouts in this recipe. Let’s cook!
Orecchiette Pasta Recipe Ingredients
You can make this orecchiette pasta recipe as part of our meal plan, or not. Here’s what you’ll need, whether you’re weaving it into the week of meals or whipping it up on its own:
- A great sauce! I use the green sauce from the beginning of the week, but any variation of pesto will do.
- A few big handfuls of Brussels sprouts
- Leftover kale stems. I had some from the kale salad that I made the other night, but you could skip them, or use asparagus instead.
- A half bunch of broccolini
- Orecchiette pasta
- A few shavings of pecorino cheese
That’s all you need! And don’t worry if you don’t have these exact ingredients on hand. Read on for some of my favorite variations!
Orecchiette Pasta Recipe Variations
This orecchiette pasta recipe is super flexible, so feel free to swap in the vegetables you have on hand or make it to suit your tastes. Here are a few of my favorite ways to change it up:
- Substitute basil pesto for the kale sauce.
- Skip the pesto, and finish everything with a big squeeze of lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
- Change up the veggies! Broccoli, broccoli rabe, asparagus, cauliflower, or spinach would all be great here.
- Swap the pecorino for Parmesan or feta.
- Roast the chickpeas for extra crunch.
- Add a handful of toasted pine nuts.
- Make it vegan by skipping the cheese and adding 2 teaspoons of capers.
- Use gluten-free pasta to make it gluten-free. (I’m a fan of brown rice penne!)
- Skip the orecchiette and serve the veggies and the sauce over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash.
Let me know what variations you try!
If you love this orecchiette pasta recipe…
- 6 ounces orecchiette pasta
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1½ cups halved Brussels sprouts
- ½ cup chopped kale stems
- Half bunch of broccolini, florets chopped, stems finely chopped
- Splash of white wine or vegetable broth
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup Creamy Kale Pepita Pesto (from the grain bowl recipe)*
- Shavings of pecorino or parmesan cheese, optional
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Return the empty pot to the stove and let it cool slightly.
- Coat the bottom of the pasta pot with a generous drizzle of olive oil and heat to medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, kale stems, broccolini stems, and a pinch of salt and cook until nearly tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Add the broccolini florets and cook until the vegetables are all tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add a splash of wine and stir to loosen any bits that might be sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to low. Stir in the pasta and the chickpeas and cook stirring gently, until just heated through. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.
- Transfer to plates and serve with generous dollops of the pepita pesto and shavings of pecorino cheese, if desired.