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Orecchiette, Snap Peas and Italian Sausage


  • 1/3 c. roasted pistachio nuts
  • 12 oz. pkg. orecchiette pasta little ears
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • small pkg. sugar snap peas cut in half diagonally
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks white and pale green part only*
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch mint* I ended up using basil because my mint was dead
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 3 oz. parmesan finely grated, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 link each hot and sweet Italian sausage optional


  1. If your pistachios are not already roasted, heat an oven to 350° and roast them for 5-8 minutes. Coarsely crush using a glass or bottom of a pan.
  2. If you are using the Italian sausage, cut the casing off of the two links and saute in small skillet until done. Drain off fat.
  3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 6 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas for the last two minutes of cooking time.
  4. While the pasta is cooking -- put the 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium heavy pot and cook over medium heat the leeks, garlic, red pepper flakes. Add in the basil when these have sautéed for a few minutes. Add in the salt and pepper. Stir in the buttermilk and bring to a simmer.
  5. Using a slotted spoon drain the pasta and peas and put into the leek mixture. Add 3 ounces of parmesan cheese, cook, stirring to combine. Add in a little pasta water if needed until sauce is creamy and coats the pasta. This takes about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Put pasta in serving bowls and top with pistachios and parmesan; drizzle with some olive oil.

Recipe Notes

*Note: leeks are usually very dirty. I slice thin and then put in my salad spinner under water to get all the dirt/sand out of them. I did not have any mint growing outside and couldn't find it at the market so I substituted basil which I think has a sweetish flavor.