Orecchiette with Rainbow Swiss Chard and Andouille Chicken Sausage

I love pasta dishes because of their versatility. Pasta is a great dish to experiment with because of all the variables that go into it. First, you have the pasta itself and its numerous shapes to choose from. Then you have the different types of sauces, tomato based, cream based, with or without meat. Then you have all the different types of add ins like vegetables, meatballs, and cheeses. And lastly you have the option of cooking it on the stove or baking it in the oven. I can probably make a different one for every day of the year. It’s also a great one dish meal that can combine almost all of the food groups. I’d usually make my own pasta if I feel really determined. But if you’re using dried pasta, then making the dish is even easier and faster.

I loved this orecchiette dish by Daisy’s World and wanted to take my own spin on it using some of the ingredients found in my farmer’s market. In this dish the slightly bitter bite of rainbow swiss chard and the smoky flavor of the andouille chicken sausage are balanced by the chewy orecchiette and the sweetness of the ricotta.

Directions

  1. Cook orecchiette pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  2. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
  4. Add the andouille chicken sausage, warm through if using pre-cooked sausage or cook through if using raw.
  5. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the swiss chard and cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir in the ricotta cheese.
  8. If needed, add in some of the reserved cooking water to moisten the pasta.
  9. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cook’s Notes

I went to the farmer’s market and found nice rainbow swiss chard. In that same trip, I stopped by Trader Joe’s and picked up their pre-cooked andouille chicken sausage. But by all means, substitute whatever type of greens you prefer. This dish also will taste great if using broccoli rabe, kale, regular swiss chard or even spinach. You can also substitute the andouille chicken sausage with whatever type of meat you’d like. Sweet or spicy italian sausage will also work well. If you’re using raw sausage, just cook it through before you start adding the garlic and the rest of the ingredients.

When you’re draining the pasta, don’t rinse it. Rinsing it will wash away the starch that will help bind the ricotta cheese (or any type of sauce you’re using) to the pasta. When you add the pasta back to the pan, it can get dry if it’s been set aside for too long. This is why you need to reserve the pasta cooking water. It will help moisten the pasta.