If you've read this blog for any length of time you know that I have a weakness for cream sauces, especially in pasta dishes. I've seen this recipe for Orecchiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone floating around the blogosphere for awhile and figured it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
After looking at the ingredient list I knew my first task would be finding a substitute for mascarpone. I'm sure the stuff is great but I'd rather use ingredients that I already keep on hand then spend extra money for a specialty item. A quick Google search led me to this recipe at food.com. I really appreciated the tool to increase or decrease the serving size to adjust for different recipes. The original recipe yielded 10 ounces and I only needed 4 ounces or 1/2 cup. Easy peasy.
I subbed nugget pasta for the orecchiette simply because I had a box at home and, again, didn't want to spend the money for a specialty item when I had something else at home already. Next time pasta is on sale at my supermarket I plan to stock up on mini shells, so next time I'll use those. As the original blogger said, the crevice in the orecchiette/shells is perfect for cradling the sausage and beans, although the nuggets were fine in a pinch.
My only complaint about this dish was that there wasn't more sauce. I'm thinking about upping the amount of mascarpone ingredients next time to see if that helps. Otherwise this was outstanding, if a little spicy from the red pepper flakes. I've made them optional in the recipe below but if you like spice use them. I prefer my cream sauces mild, thankfyouverymuch.
If 1/2 pound of sausage seems like too little for 1 pound of pasta never fear; the beans more than make up for it. I wish I'd taken my own advice, though. I thought the pan seemed a little empty so I used a full pound of sausage and it overwhelmed the finished dish once everything else had been added. Next time I'll stick with a 1/2 pound.
Orecchiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone
Modified from Stirring the Pot
1 pound orecchiette or shell pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup Marsala wine (you can also use brandy, sherry or Madeira)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces cream cheese
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.
In a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and onions. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it browns. Continue cooking until the sausage is golden and the onions are tender. Add the garlic and stir, cooking about 1 minute until you can smell the garlic. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup Marsala wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the beans, oregano, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and stir. Add the cream cheese, heavy cream and sour cream and stir until it dissolves into a light sauce. Add the salt, pepper, and hot pasta. Stir until coated and serve.