There’s so much to learn about Italy’s food and wine regions! For this month’s Italian Food, Wine and Travel event, coordinated by Jen at Vino Travels, we are visit Le Marche, a region I hadn’t heard of before. I learned that the Apennines run through the Marches, making it a hilly and mountainous region that also features some gorgeous beaches on the Adriatic sea. Found in Central Italy near some better known neighbors like Tuscany and Umbria, it sounds like a wonderful place to enjoy some Italian scenery and history a bit off the usual tourist path.
With the region being unfamiliar to me, I needed to do a bit of research to figure out what I would make to pair with a wine from the Marches. Lots of ingredients I like caught my eye researching food from the Marche–pork, fresh fish, olives, sausage, and pasta, to name a few. After a bit of reading and thinking about what would go with the wine I had, I came up with this Orecchiette with Grilled Sausage recipe.
I decided to go all out on the grilled aspect of this pasta dish. Rather than sautéing onions and peppers as I might typically do for a pasta dish, I tossed these veggies with some olive oil and spread in a grill pan. They grilled up nicely alongside the spicy Italian sausages from Niman Ranch–a nice preservative free option. A modest about of these spicy sausages was enough to give good flavor to the dish. I bet garlic and herb sausages would work nicely in this recipe.
I understand papperdelle is a frequently used pasta in the Marche region, but I prefer short pasta shapes with sausage. So I went with orecchiette, an ear shaped pasta that captured the bits of sausage, onions and peppers nicely. I read that Pecorino is a popular cheese in the region, so that was a natural choice to add to this dish. And it went well with the wine. Speaking of which…
If you look at what my fellow #ItalianFWT chose, you will see that Verdicchio was a natural choice. This Italian white grape varietal is popular in the Marche region. I mentioned I wasn’t familiar with this region prior to the event, but when I was asked at Pairings to be steered in the direction of a wine from the Marche, I did recognize the bottle of 2012 Il Bacco Verdicchio as one I’ve enjoyed before.
This Verdicchio worked very well with the Orecchiette and Grilled Sausage recipe. I tasted cantaloupe and notes of hazelnut. That nuttiness worked nicely with the Pecorino cheese. The wine has a clean finish, which helps refresh the palate after a bite of spicy sausage. At about $15/bottle, this Verdicchio is another great example of the good values from Italian wine, especially when you get a bit off the beaten path. Marche is a region that seems worth discovering, whether it is a virtual visit by sampling some of its food and wine, or traveling there to enjoy the mountains and beaches!
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 colored bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 ozs spicy Italian sausage
- 12 ozs orechiette
- ½ cup pecorino cheese
- ½ tsp marjoram
- 12 ozs orechiette or other short pasta shape
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat water to boil for pasta and preheat the grill.
- Toss the onion and pepper with 1 tablespoon of the olive, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the onion mixture into a grill pan, and place on the grill. Stir occasionally, grilling for about 10 minutes until the onions start to brown. Remove the grilled onions, and scrape into a plastic bowl. Toss with another tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.
- After you start the onions on the grill, place the sausages on the grill, cook for about 5 minutes then turn over and grill for about 5 more minutes until browned on both sides. I used pre-cooked sausage, but if you're not using precooked, check to see the sausages have been cooked through. Remove from grill, and set aside to cool. Slice the sausages thinly after they have cooled a bit.
- Begin cooking the pasta according to package instructions once the sausages have started grilling. When cooked al dente, drain the pasta. Toss with the sliced sausages, grilled onion mixture and the remaining olive oil. Stir in the pecorino cheese. Serve and enjoy!
Check out these great posts about Le Marche! You can join us live on Twitter today at 11 am Eastern Time and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT and share your experiences of the Marche region in Italy.
Join us next month Saturday June 6th as we explore the Campania region in Italy. If you would like to join our group email Vino Travels directly at vinotravels at hotmail dot com. Ciao ciao for now!
Tools to use: A grill pan or basket is a great help for grilling veggies as called for by this recipe. This post includes affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase via the link. I only recommend products that I use myself!