An easy recipe for orecchiette pasta with spicy Italian sausage, brown butter, and sage, courtesy of LA chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.

See our Guide to Pasta Types for more.

  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 25 to 35 mins

Ingredients (7)

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces Italian spicy sausage, casings removed
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh sage, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
  • Kosher salt for the pasta water, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Set a medium sauté pan with high sides over medium-high heat and add half of the butter. When the butter is foamy and turns a light golden brown, add the sausage and cook until it’s well browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sage, stir to combine, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside.
  3. Add the orecchiette and a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water. Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes, depending on the brand of pasta (check the cooking recommendations on the package). Use a ladle to reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the orecchiette.
  4. Set the pan with the browned sausage over medium heat and add the pasta. Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until a sauce begins to form.
  5. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the pecorino cheese and add the rest to the pasta. Add the remaining butter and stir to combine. Keep adding more of the reserved pasta water as needed until the sauce emulsifies into a creamy sauce that clings to the pasta. Season with black pepper and taste, adding additional salt if needed.
  6. Divide the pasta evenly between 2 warmed plates. Garnish with the reserved pecorino and serve.