Healthier Italian: Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes
Now, there are recipes and then there are RE-CI-PES! Man, this one is out of the ballpark. I don’t know what it is — the creaminess of the pasta and cheese or the heat from the sausage, but boy this is a winner in my book.
One thing I love about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to make. Plus it’s super versatile too. You can use just about any kind of sausage and replace Pecorino or Grana Padano in place of the Parmesan. Heck, I even replaced the orzo with tiny star-shaped pasta. Okay, I named more than one thing that I love about this recipe… but who’s counting?
I like to think that because you can substitute just about everything in here, this dish could be a healthier version of an Italian meal. Substitute turkey Italian sausage for a lower fat content and low-sodium broth for the pasta water. You shouldn’t lose much flavor because of all of the spices that are waltzing around on your taste buds.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the pasta and bring back to a boil. Cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. This will depend on your pasta so read the directions on the box, approximate 8 minutes or so. Drain your pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage links, cover and saute until cooked through. You will need to turn these over after a couple of minutes to brown each side. Remove the sausage once they are cooked and cut them into coins. You may want to cut the coins in half to disperse the sausage throughout the pasta more. Place the sausage back into the pan and add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Stir for about two minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to form a bit of a watery sauce.
Add your cooked pasta into the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of parsley, most of your Parmesan and toss well to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid to loosen the pasta if necessary. Top with Parmesan and sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.