This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta.
The original recipe was quite simple and needed some pizzaz! I wanted to add an element of protein without overwhelming the dish and was inspired by orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. I added sausage, spinach, and lemon to brighten the dish. I used chicken broth and lemon juice as cooking liquid to add flavor and swapped out plum tomatoes for the cherry/grape tomatoes. Tomato paste also adds a savory, umami flavor to the cooking liquid. Butter and parsley finish the sauce nicely, adding richness and freshness, bringing out the notes of lemon.
pork sausage (Sweet or Hot Italian) removed from casing
Heat olive oil in pan on med-high heat until glistening, then add ground sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break up sausage into small crumbles as it browns.
Once sausage is beginning to brown, add tomato paste and stir to coat. You should notice browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan - lots of color. Turn off the heat and remove sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving rendered fat in the pan. Set aside
Turn the heat back on to med-high and add sliced onions and garlic. Stir until onions have picked up a little color from the pan.
Add orecchiette, chicken broth, lemon juice, tomatoes, lemon zest, basil and salt (to taste). Stir to ensure pasta is submerged. Bring to rapid boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
*note: although you are hopefully using reduced sodium chicken broth, the cooking liquid is reducing, so pay attention to the amount of salt you use. Finishing with cheese will also add saltiness to the final dish.
After 4 minutes of boiling, add spinach on top of everything and allow to wilt. Stir into broth. Liquid should be reducing as it boils.
Start checking pasta. Remove heat once it becomes al dente and stir in butter and parsley to finish.
Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese to taste.