I love Giada De Laurentiis, I think she’s a great cook and a great TV host. We have two of her books and watch her show all the time, and any recipe of her’s we have tried hasn’t disappointed. For the first time ever I used mascarpone cheese in a savory dish, and it was delicious. After trying Giada’s orechiette with sausage, beans and mascarpone, I have a feeling I’ll be using it more often. We followed the recipe pretty close since this was our first time trying this dish, but there are some things we’ll try next time around (more on that later).

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 lb of small shaped pasta
– olive oil (for sauteing)
– 1/2 to 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed (Giada calls for turkey sausage, and this is our preference as well, but any Italian sausage will work just fine)
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp dried)
– salt and pepper
– red pepper flakes
– 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop the pasta. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve about one cup of the water for the sauce. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the sausage and onions, breaking up the sausage into small pieces, until the sausage browns and the onions cook through, about ten minutes. Season the sausage and onions with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using dried oregano, add it at this stage too). Once the sausage is cooked through, add the beans (and oregano, if using fresh) and cook for about two minutes. Add the pasta water to the pan, using the liquid to help scrape the brown bits off the bottom. Once the water begins to simmer, add the mascarpone cheese and stir until it has melted and created a creamy sauce, about two minutes. The longer you let the sauce simmer, the thicker it will get. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat, and you’re ready to serve!

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Giada’s recipe didn’t call for any garlic or red pepper flakes (which is odd for Giada). We decided to add red pepper this time, but I think next time we’ll also add garlic. The flavor and texture of this dish was amazing. It was so creamy, but not heavy like an alfredo sauce. The sausage and onions gave the whole dish a great rustic flavor. Taking the sausage out of the casing gave it a different texture than just cooking it and cutting it into slices. I think it really made the dish what it was.

Billy actually found this recipe when we were putting together our menu last week, and I heard “peas” instead of “beans.” That got us thinking — next time we make this (which will be soon!) we’re going to add peas. I think it would give the dish a great flavor and a little extra burst of texture in every bite.

This recipe can be found in Giada’s latest book, Giada’s Kitchen, or on the Food Network Web site.

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