Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onion Meatballs, Cannellini Beans and Escarole



By combining sausage, meatballs and beans you will have a filling and substantial dish fit for any winter gathering. It is great for many reasons: it is a one-dish meal, the sauce can be made a day ahead (only the pasta is cooked last minute), it is quick to put together, and the leftovers are delicious, too!


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3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 28-oz can Italian style tomatoes with juices (such as San Marzano), chopped, or 2 cups chopped peeled and seeded fresh tomatoes
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained, or 2 cups drained cooked dried cannellini beans
1 medium head escarole, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
2 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 pound dried orecchiette, bow tie (farfalle), pinwheels or other large twisted pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the sausage and meatballs and cook until sausages brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and carrots and cook unit the onion is translucent, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, escarole and sage. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cover, adjust heat so liquids simmer and cook until carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Before using, rewarm in a large deep skillet, adding about ½ cup water and stirring frequently.)

  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite (al dente), about 9 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta.

  3. Mix the pasta into the sauce, adding enough pasta cooking liquid to moisten, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with Parmesan cheese.

  4. COOK NOTE: Canned beans works fine in this recipe. You can also use great norther or navy beans. To cook dried beans, soak 2 cups cannellini beans overnight in water to cover. Drain and then simmer in 2 quarts of fresh water until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Begin sampling after 40 minutes and continue to test every 20 minutes. Use 2 cups drained cooked beans in this recipe; reserve the remainder for another use.