April 19, 2022

White Bean, Sausage and Pea Orecchiette

This recipe was inspired by Food Networks Katie Lee and her White Bean, Tomato and Sausage Orecchiette. We have a few picky eaters in our house, so I tailored this dish to fit my family by eliminating the tomatoes and replacing them with peas.  

I love how simple this recipe is, making it a perfect option for a weeknight meal.  It came together in 30 minutes, which is great for busy families or when you’re in a pinch to get something hot to the dinner table. Most of the ingredients you may already have in your pantry or freezer including white beans, peas and small shaped pasta.  I used orecchiette pasta which resemble “little ears”.  Their cute shape is perfect for this recipe, because when the sausage breaks up,  and all the ingredients come together, they all end up being around the same size, which makes for the perfect spoonful. 

You’ll notice the addition of pasta water in this recipe.  Not only does the salty, starchy pasta water flavor the dish, but it creates a great sauce and makes the pasta glisten. 

You can easily make substitutions in this recipe like using ground turkey instead of the sweet italian sausage, or use spicy sausage instead of sweet.  Don’t like white beans?  You can just leave them out! But they do add a nice creamy texture.  My kids are not bean lovers and they didn’t question the beans in this dish.  They are almost disguised by the litte ear shaped pasta! Plus white beans are pretty mild.  You can also replace the peas with some fresh chopped spinach.  Or halved cherry/grape tomatoes (as Katie Lee’s recipe calls for). If you’re choosing a different vegetable, just keep the sizes on the small side, so everything cooks evenly and the dish will also have a better appearance plated when all ingredients are a similar size.  Use any small shaped pasta you have on hand, or try a gluten free pasta to make this gluten free.  

White Bean, Sausage and Pea Orecchiette

This recipe was inspired by Katie Lee's White Bean, Tomato and Sausage Orecchiette. My family doesn't love tomatoes, so I substituted peas in their place.
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper optional
  • 1 15oz canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean plus additional for serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade plus extra for garnish


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, until it starts to brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving all the oil in the skillet.
  • Add the onions to the oil and cook until they start to soften and turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the peas and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
  • Add 1 large ladle of pasta water from the cooking pasta into the skillet. Stir again. Add the beans and sausage back to the skillet. Cook until warmed through. When the pasta is cooked, add to the skillet and toss until completely coated. Add the Parmesan in batches, stirring to incorporate and letting it melt before more is added. Stir in the basil.
  • Plate the pasta and top with more Parmesan and basil. Serve immediately. I like to serve in pasta bowls with a large spoon.


Before the pasta is done cooking, I like to save a little extra pasta water in a bowl, in case you need to add a bit more.  

Thanks for reading,