Coming back from a long (end of summer, to boot) holiday weekend is a great time to count our small victories: those little moments in life where we find that sparkle of success. It’s the accumulation of all those small victories that propel us through a day (whether we acknowledge them or not) and when our heads hit the pillow at night we have that moment of ‘yea… not so bad, not so bad… zzzZZ’.
Small victories include:
• actually remembering to take the grocery list to the grocery store. • watering the lawn before the unforgiving August sun comes calling. • getting the city to fix the giant pothole / canyon in front of your house (THIS is actually a very large victory in New Orleans) • remembering your umbrella. • buying anchovies and using them in a recipe successfully despite their smell and general creepiness. • and eating an entire burrito with your hands… not a fork and knife.
All petite victories that get us through A to B to C to D in a day and gosh-dangit… they deserve recognition and celebration.
Small Victories is also a kitchen concept, pep talk, and cookbook by Julia Turshen.
Kitchen victories come as we tuck little bits of knowledge, confidence, and intuition under our belts in the kitchen. Everything we learn is a little bit of something. Boiling water… that’s a victory… just think of all the pasta, grits, and legumes in your future! Turning a brisket into ragu or tacos or Sunday night dinner. Look atcha werkin’. Making broth for soups and learning how to soup that soup into soup anytime you want soup? Gosh that’s victory that deserves a parade.
This book is such a solid tool… and approachable and endearing, too! New favorite, for sure.
Also, we’re making pasta and sometimes warm dinner not popcorn dinner is a victory in itself.
We’re making pasta dinner!
This is very versatile is flavor which means… whatcha got? Let’s be adventurous. Let’s pasta it.
We’ll start by browning spicy Italian sausage. Browned to crisp. Browned to very well browned. Browned until bits stick to the bottom of the pan. That’s the sign of good things afoot.
Onions are cooked past translucent to browned in the sausage fat. Garlic, too. Naturally.
Here’s the thing about anchovies: they’re smelly. They’re smelly especially if you’re not eating them but someone around you is eating them. Same goes for bananas… but that’s neither here not there.
Anchovies will add a depth, saltiness, and general umami flavor to the pasta that’s simply delicious. Victory, indeed.
Whole peeled tomatoes in their juice. Try to get the good Italian kind. I think they’re the sweetest and most flavorful.
Tomatoes are broken down to chunky using a wooden spoon. This will be rustic and deeply satisfying. Trust it.
Sausage is added back to the simmering tomatoes and onions.
Now we’ll add the saltiness by way of coarsely chopped capers and chopped green olives.
Sea salt and lots of black pepper too!
Crushed red pepper flakes are also a supreme thought.
To this simple tomato sauce, we’ll add a good dose of reserved salted pasta water. Adding seasoning and a bit of starch.
Julia notes that the small victory of this recipe is taking the pasta out of the pasta water just before it’s completely cooked. Reserve some of the pasta water, adding it to the sauce, and toss in the pasta and allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing all of those delicious savory flavors.
Orecchiette is my favorite pasta shape. Little ears. They’re little bowls for the tomato, sausage, olive flavors.
Top with a bonkers amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Serve in generous heaps with cold beer. Best eaten with rowdy company on the couch. We are victorious and full.
Small Victories: Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs by Julia TurshenPrint
Very Versatile Orecchiette with Sausage + Parmesan
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- kosher salt
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 anchovy filets
- 1 large (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped capers
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- parmesan cheese, for topping
- fresh parsley, for topping
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen peas
- sauteed mushrooms
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add kosher salt and dried pasta. Cook until al dente (according to the package instructions). Drain, reserving about 2 cups of pasta water to add some to the sauce later. Allow pasta to rest while you make the sauce.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and crumble in the sausage. Cook, breaking the sausage with the back of a spoon until the sausage it very well browned and the fat is rendered. Spoon the sausage into a bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and stir for 2 minutes more.
- Add the anchovy filets and use the back of a spoon to break up into the onions are garlic.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice. Break up with the spoon to create smaller tomato bites.
- Return the cooked sausage to the pan along with the olives and capers. Stir. Add about 3/4 cup pasta water to thin the sauce, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir pasta into the sauce, adding more pasta water as necessary.
- Sprinkle with fresh parmesan and fresh parsley and enjoy warm.
- Add the other optional ingredients to the sauce as it cooks if you’d like and enjoy pasta night!
- Serving Size: 4
Thank you so much for adding in an “Additional Options” portion to your recipe. This dish sounds amazing but I know myself and my body. My mind is saying “We should make that tomorrow!” while my body is saying “that’s kind of a lot of salty items on the list”. I honestly would have never thought to substitute the capers or olives (I hate to see those go. <3) for spinach or peas. This looks delightful and I've bookmarked to try in the future.
Thank you, Joy!
Detail instruction. This looks gorgeous and delicious. Will add to my shopping list and will try to do this. Thanks for sharing.
I’m convinced that capers should go in everything. No hesitation. Definitely adding this recipe to the rotation next week!
Joy, have been following you a few months now and really enjoy reading your blog. I made this last night for dinner. My husband and I were blown away by how delicious it was. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with us. I am not a baker so this is the first recipe I tried.
This looked so good I bought the ingredients the day I read this post and have made it 2 nights in a row. Delicious!
This was a super satisfying weeknight dinner! I had some anchovy paste in the fridge that ended up being expired, so did leave that out, and also used 12 oz of sausage because we love it. :)
I think this was one of the very few dishes I’ve ever made that said 4 servings and we had a ton left! It made us feel better because the 2 of us usually obliterate “4 serving” meals. Will definitely make this again!
just these photos could make me feel so hungry, they’re very nice. all these ingredients combine perfectly I think.
ideal recipe for a weekend lunch. thanks for sharing.
Orecchiette, though (insert heart eyes). I also love this similar fettuccine dish, with smoky andouille sausage and vodka cream sauce.
i’m sure it’ll be very delicious. my kids love sausage and parmesan as always. thanks for your recipe i have one more suggestion of the dinner for them. one question, do the flavor change if i don’t use chopped green olives and olive oil? my kids can’t eat them.
have a nice day, friend.
This looks soooo gooood. And I just want you to know that after a deeply confusing, difficult day.. (the worst kind in which my entire sense of what’s real & what’s false in my world has been called into question) I came here. To your site.. for comfort. Because there’s something so real and grounding about you and the way you write.. and I greatly appreciate that. It’s really helping me to feel more sane right now. Thank you, truly.
I’m excited to make this! Sounds delicious! The directions above the recipe say green onions, though, and you mean green olives, right? :)
I always wish I was more adventurous with pasta. Most of the time I just eat it with a good spoonful of pesto and some Parmesan. Bookmarking this to make it later in the week!