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Kitchen Notebook

June 12, 2017

Sicilian Escarole & Sausage

20 Mins

Even though our family is from the Campania region of Italy, the Sicilian mix of pine nuts and raisins makes an appearance in a number of our recipes, including my nonni’s braciole. Here that classic combination brings out the sweetness in salty anise-flecked sausage and bitter greens. Although a hearty supper on its own, leftovers the next day call for a fried egg on top (but what isn’t better with a little runny yolk?).

Serves 4 


  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ pound Orecchiette
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head of Escarole, cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper
  • ¹⁄³ cup Raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, plus more for serving
  1. Toast the pine nuts in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently to make sure they do not burn, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.
  3. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: Wipe the skillet you used for the pine nuts clean. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until it browns, about 10 minutes, breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon. Remove the sausage and drippings and set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet and add the garlic. Sauté until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Begin adding the escarole to the pan, tossing it to wilt until it has cooked down. If needed, add small amounts of pasta water to help it along. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the sausage and drippings back into the pan and toss with the escarole. Add the pasta directly to the sauce along with the raisins and pine nuts and toss to coat, adding ¼ cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce. Add the Pecorino Romano and toss again. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. 
  6. Plate in bowls and pass grated cheese at the table.


From Back Pocket Pasta. Copyright © 2017 by Colu Henry. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Peden + Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

20 Mins Dinner Escarole Meat Pasta Pine Nuts Raisins Recipe Sausage Sicilian Summer

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20 Mins Dinner Escarole Meat Pasta Pine Nuts Raisins Recipe Sausage Sicilian Summer

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