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Orecchiette with Fennel, Sausage & Tomatoes

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Make tonight’s dinner feel like a mini vacation to Italy with this quick pasta that pays homage to classic Italian flavors like sweet sausage, fennel, tomatoes, and fresh basil.


  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 large fennel bulb (about 1-1/4 lb.), quartered, cored, and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups fresh (or canned) seeded diced tomatoes, drained if using canned
  • 12 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb. dried orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Nutritional Information

      Calories (kcal) : 680
      Fat Calories (kcal): 240
      Fat (g): 27
      Saturated Fat (g): 8
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13
      Cholesterol (mg): 35
      Sodium (mg): 1430
      Carbohydrates (g): 75
      Fiber (g): 7
      Protein (g): 24


  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

    Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a metal spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate and pour off and discard any fat left in the pan.

    Set the pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil, the fennel, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until the fennel softens and browns lightly, about 6 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the wine, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

    Add the sausage, tomatoes, half of the basil, the red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 6 to 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in the boiling water, stirring frequently until just tender, about 11 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well. Return the pasta to the pot, add the sauce, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 1 minute so the sauce and pasta meld. If the pasta seems dry, add enough cooking water to moisten it to your liking. Stir in half of the pecorino, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with the remaining pecorino and basil.

Serve with a Classic Caesar Salad


Rate or Review


  • cilley2 | 10/10/2013

    5 star recipe rating from all the family. I did use 1 lb sausage and 3/4 lb pasta and used a medium size fennel and a small yellow onion, 1 cup wine and 1 can spicy red pepper diced tomatoes & 1 can diced tomatoes with fennel in it and used no red pepper flakes. Had so much flavor.I only used 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 pepper and the flavor was perfect.

  • JanMun | 08/03/2013

    One of our standby meals, which husband shorthands as "pasta hats".

  • smontano | 02/18/2013

    Absolutely delicious! I couldn't find sweet Italian sausage so I bought mild Italian and added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I also didn't add any salt. The salt from the sausage and canned tomatoes was just enough. This is a going to be a regular on my dinner table!

  • User avater
    Hillary111 | 11/12/2012

    My boyfriend loved this, I however thought it was a bit bland and too salty. I am willing to give it another try since he liked it so much but using a different sausage than I did the first time. I would definitely make the sauce in advance the next time and then reheat it, plus I had a hard time with the Orecchiette not being done even though I cooked it twice the time on the package, that is not FC's problem though.

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