Perhaps this should be the title of my first book - Keeping it Real and Simple. I'm all about keeping a recipe simple. I can take just about any recipe and change it up or streamline it to suit someone's busy schedule.
So, why do I call these pasta shapes "chico hats". Besides slightly resembling little hats, that's just what my mother-in-law called them and the name has stuck over the years. She used to make her own orecchiette (the real name) from scratch. One day when she was visiting I came home from work to find flour everywhere. There was a huge batch of these small ear shaped dough bits laid out over my kitchen counter. Of course, there was a large pot of her sauce ready to dredge them in. Not only was I fortunate enough to have dinner almost prepared for me but it was prepared by a real Italian mother! She loved cooking for her son as I do today. He is always so appreciative and full of compliments, most of the time.
Whether you have loads of time or not much at all this pasta doesn't have to take most of the day to prepare. Let's streamline it.
Package of store bought orecchiette I used approximately 1/2 of bag.
3 Italian sausages, removed from casing. I like Hot sausage for this.
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups marinara
1/2 c water
3 T chopped onion
1/2 tsp fennel seed
4 leaves chopped fresh basil
romano cheese for garnish (optional)
Cook the pasta according to directions. In a large skillet brown the sausage crumbling into smaller pieces as you go. Add the onion and fennel seed, stirring until onion is barely cooked. Add the marinara , basil and water. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce mixtures. Plate your pasta and you're done. I have made this pasta from scratch and it's not as hard as it seems. I guess I needed to prove to myself I could do it, but I'd rather not make a practice of it.