This might be the perfect summer weeknight recipe because it can be substituted with almost anything. The meatballs only have 3 ingredients and will work with wild hog, venison, beef, or even pork. Similarly, the pasta can be made with whatever you have growing in your garden—no red pepper? Add summer squash. Got some ripe heirloom tomatoes? Those are great added in raw at the end. Make this recipe your own.
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage*
- 1 egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
Red Pepper Orzo Pasta
- 3 cups dried orzo pasta
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil from sun-dried tomato jar
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
- Kosher sea salt and cracked pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese, optional
* Don’t have sweet Italian sausage? Use 1 lb. ground meat (80/20) and add 1 tbsp. kosher sea salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, ¾ tsp. sweet paprika, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. crushed fennel seed, and 1 ½ tsp. sugar.
Also works with
- Make the meatballs by mixing the sausage, egg, and breadcrumbs together in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Roll into meatballs about the size of a golf ball.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a glug of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Working in batches, lay each meatball down and leave a little space in between.
- Once brown, flip and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking for several more minutes, giving the pan a shake every so often to cook the sides, until the meatballs are cooked through. Transfer to a warm oven and repeat with the second batch. Serve immediately with the orzo pasta and grated parmesan, if desired.
Red Pepper Orzo Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a few heavy pinches of salt and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes, and strain. Shock with cold water to cool, strain, and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in two tablespoons of olive oil from the sun-dried tomato jar.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the remaining two tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar and swirl the pan to coat.
- Once hot, add the yellow onion. Saute until golden in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until very soft, another 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it cooks, season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the garlic and once fragrant, pour in the red wine vinegar. Let the vinegar boil and reduce until it’s almost gone. Remove from the heat.
- Scrape the peppers into the bowl with orzo pasta along with the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine and season to taste. Serve immediately with the meatballs, or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold as a salad.