Wednesday, November 30, 2005






Comfort in a bowl



Beth Budra

Special to The Chronicle


Sometimes a fall comfort dish needs a shot of summer. In today's pasta dish, the flavors of summer concentrated in green olives and sun-dried tomatoes meld with cream and chewy pasta. It's one of those dishes that can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta water. Apart from the sausage and fresh parsley, the ingredients may already be in the pantry.


This dish is lightly sauced and fairly monochromatic. This may tempt you to add more olives and tomatoes, but be careful -- their assertive flavors can easily become overwhelming. The pine nuts, cream, parsley and cheese temper those bold ingredients. If you want more color, try adding parsley instead.


Orecchiette pasta, shaped like little ears or cups, catches bits of sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pine nuts in each bite. The orecchiette are thicker at the edges, giving them an irregular chewiness that adds interest and heartiness to the dish. If you can't find orecchiette, you can substitute farfalle (bowties).


Taste your sun-dried tomatoes to see how tough and chewy they are. If they're tough, soak them in warm water to soften. Vacuum-packed sun-dried tomatoes may not need soaking. Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil can taste musty; if using, try rinsing off the oil beforehand.


You can use sweet or spicy Italian sausage, or a combination of both for this dish (or leave it out altogether). If you choose spicy, you may want to omit the red chile flakes. Broiling the sausage is quicker and not as messy as cooking it on the stove; it also needs less attention, so you can focus on the rest of the ingredients while it cooks.



Beth Budra is a recent graduate of the California Culinary Academy. E-mail her at <>.



2005 San Francisco Chronicle






FAST & FRESH / Dinner in 30 minutes


Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage,

Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Pine Nuts


The most time-consuming aspect to this dish is waiting for the pasta water to boil. You also can use warm, precooked sausage.




1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (preferably not packed

in oil), cut into julienne strips

12 ounces Italian sausage

1 pound orecchiette pasta

1/4 cup Spanish or other mild green olives,

finely chopped

1/3 cup cream

2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

black pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 Tablespoons pine nuts




If the sun-dried tomatoes are tough, soak in 1/2 cup of warm water until soft, about 5 minutes, squeeze dry and reserve.


Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Preheat broiler, placing an oven rack 6 to 8 inches below heating element.


Place sausage on a baking sheet. Broil for 8-10 minutes, turning

once. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch-thick slices.


Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water. Return pasta to pot and toss with sausage, tomatoes, olives, cream and reserved pasta water. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and crushed red pepper flakes. Season with black pepper to taste. Taste for salt and add if needed. Sprinkle chopped parsley and pine nuts over and serve.


Serves 4


PER SERVING: 745 calories, 28 g protein, 97 g carbohydrate, 27 g fat (g saturated), 63 mg cholesterol, 882 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.






2005 San Francisco Chronicle