• Alessandra DeNardo

Orecchiette in a Spicy Red Wine Sauce

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

This dish was created by accident. And it turned out amazing. What I intended to make with white wine and cannelini beans, turned into a deeper sauce with a tang from the wine and spice from the crushed red pepper. Make sure to chop your cauliflower small and fully caramelize before you add the tomato paste, it makes a difference. I am not intending for there to be chunks of cauliflower in this, I almost want it blended into the sauce. Enjoy!!


  • 1 lb orecchiette

  • 1 cauliflower head, chopped medium to small

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2-4 spicy sausage links, casing removed

  • olive oil (standard cooking type and a nicer, thicker, high quality one to add at the end)

  • 1/2 can tomato paste

  • 3/4 C red wine

  • all of the reserved starchy pasta water

  • ample amounts of basil/parsley, chopped

  • red pepper flakes


  1. Begin to boil a pot of water.

  2. Heat a large skillet and add olive oil to medium-hot pan. Make sure your pan is hot before you add your oil, and your oil is hot before you add your cauliflower to get optimal results.

  3. Add cauliflower and begin frying slowly so that it caramelizes and becomes brown. Add salt, red pepper, and garlic powder to cauliflower.

  4. About 6 min in, push the cauliflower to the side of the pan and add sausage. Begin to brown.

  5. Add garlic and let cook 1-2 min. Add more oil if anything seems dry.

  6. Salt your pasta water and add pasta.

  7. Once everything is browned, mix all ingredients.

  8. Add tomato paste and incorporate into the cauliflower and sausage for 5-6 min.

  9. Add a generous amount of red pepper flakes (depending on your tolerance to spice).

  10. Add red wine and let reduce for 5-7 min. It should no longer smell like alcohol when done reducing.

  11. Add 2 C of pasta water to the sauce. RESERVE MORE. You will need it.

  12. When the pasta is about 2 min from al dente (still hard). Add it to the sauce mixture, let it simmer for 1-2 min until pasta becomes red-ish and everything is ‘one’ and together. Keep adding water until it almost seems too saucy, then stop.

  13. Add fresh basil and parsley and stir.

  14. If your pasta mixture dried up, add water.

  15. Add quality olive oil to garnish at end.

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