Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

My father loves to watch cooking shows and is often inspired to try out a new dish he sees prepared on a show. Today he drew inspiration from Weir Cooking in the City a program of public television KQED in San Francisco. Joanne Weir used to work at Chez Panisse and now teaches cooking classes in the city. This simple recipe of pasta, sausage, Parmesan cheese and rabe or kale is very easy to prepare and delicious. After indulging tonight we all agreed that it was a keeper. Ms. Weir’s recipe calls for broccoli rabe, which wasn’t available, but kale made a perfectly fine substitution. Kale can be quite bitter on its own, but included in this dish there is no trace of bitterness; it is an accent of flavor to the sausage and cheese.

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Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. shell or ear-shaped "Conchiglie" pasta
  • 3/4 lb. Italian sausage - half hot, half sweet or plain
  • 12 oz. bunch of kale, broccoli rabe, or other green, chopped (if using kale, or leafy green, remove and discard center stem)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a Tbsp of olive oil. Add the pasta and cook as directed on the package, until al dente.

2 While pasta is being prepared, cook kale or rabe in chicken stock for about 8 minutes.

3 While greens are cooking, sauté Italian sausage until brown - about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove sausage from pan. Add green onions to pan, sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

4 When pasta is done, drain and return to pan. Toss together with the greens, sausage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Add chile pepper flakes to taste.

Note: You might want to try experimenting with adding some sautéed bell pepper.

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21 Comments

  1. Nancy

    I had this for dinner tonight, used kale. It was so simple, so light, and so good. My husband even liked it! He didn’t even ask what the “green” was.

  2. Anonymous

    Such a good, easy all-purpose pasta dish. Used spinach and broccoli instead of suggested greens (had them on hand). I top all my pasta now with a grating of Mizithra cheese which is a very tangy Greek cheese — superb.

  3. courtney

    I made this tonight, because I wanted something quick that didn’t taste quick, and this was perfect.

    It even got my husband to admit to liking kale!

  4. Marcia

    Very tasty & quick. Used spinach, and since it’s bland upped amount to 1 lb+. Good with your zucchini recipe. Thanks ya’ll.

  5. earlysun

    This recipe is so simple and quick! I made a vegetarian variation of it last night.

    I used bow tie pasta, vegetable broth, and beans instead of the chicken stock and sausage. I also used 8 oz. of pasta instead of a pound. It was still plenty for 5 servings. A small onion and half of a pepper added another layer of flavor.

    It was tasty, but in the future I’ll cut the kale smaller before sauteing it since my husband doesn’t like it by itself.

  6. Lynn

    I have been searching for recipes without tomato sauce as I have been having problems with eating foods that are acidy. Wow, this was wonderful. So fresh, so clean. I used kale, which I have never eaten before, and shell pasta, together with 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage and 1/2 mild Italian sausage. It was just delicious!

  7. Angie

    I made this last night and it was delicous. I used kale as well, since my local grocery store was out of rabe and turkey italian sausage since that’s what I had on hand. Thanks for sharing, it was a perfect weeknight meal.

  8. Laura

    I had 14 people over for dinner last night and made 2 batches. It was huge. I really thought I’d have leftovers. There wasn’t a noodle left! They loved it. Easy and a huge hit. Thanks!

  9. kathleen

    Hi Elise,
    I loved the sausage, kale and pasta recipe. I just wanted to ask, should it be on the dry side? When I cooked the kale in the chicken broth I added that to the recipe, but a lot of the chicken broth cooked down. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    Hi Kathleen, if still too dry, I would just add some water to it, especially if the broth cooked down too much. ~Elise

  10. Christina B

    Great recipe! It was definitely a twist to the everyday pasta dish, but it was worth it! I used kale, whole grain shells, and a combo sweet/hot sausage I found in the supermarket. My husband enjoyed it as well, he even went for seconds! I will make this again, it only took less than fifteen minutes for all of it to be done…

  11. Michelle

    This is a GREAT recipe! I’ve made it quite a few times, and it’s one of my all time favorites. So light and simple, but it doesn’t taste simple! I also appreciated the intro. to kale, which I quite like, although I haven’t tried it in anything else.

    I love shell pasta anyway. I sometimes add diced red bell pepper into the sausage cooking part. It makes the dish quite colorful and pretty.

  12. JT

    Hi, Elise: I made a similar recipe last night (minus the sausage…but had sun dried tomatoes in oil and toasted pine nuts). I still love the idea but felt it could be improved…so here I am! Question on cooking the broccoli rabe: when you say cook for eight minutes – do you mean to bring the chicken stock to a simmer and then cook for 8 minutes? The recipe I had boiled the water and then put the broccoli rabe in for about 3 minutes. I just don’t want to overcook. Thanks for your help, as always.

    I read the recipe as bringing the stock to a simmer first, then adding the rabe and cooking for 8 minutes. But I really think it depends on the specific ingredients you have on hand. The rabe should be fork tender, and if you can accomplish that with the rabe you are working with in 3 minutes, then I would go with that. ~Elise

  13. P. Dave

    Absolutely delicious! Fiancee approved too :) I was a bit confused with the kale aspect. I simmered the chicken stock, added the cooked sausage to it, and then added the kale. Then I let it sit for a few minutes. It seemed to work.

  14. Elizabeth

    I was given a huge bag of kale from a coworker this week and, not being much of a cook, I didn’t know what to do with it! I searched for kale recipes online and came across this and decided to give it a try. It’s soooo yummy! My roommates kept complaining whenever I mentioned my plan to make kale for dinner but they couldn’t resist trying something that smelled so good and they ended up loving it too! I really appreciate you posting this! I’ve bookmarked it to come back and make again! Thank you! :)

  15. Sherryl

    This was delicious! I was craving something different today and I had all of these ingredients in the house. Granted, the kale was frozen but it came out excellent. Both my husband and I loved it. Because the kale was frozen, I cut the chicken stock down to a cup to account for the extra water. Next time, I’ll plan on making this and buy fresh kale. I bet it will be even better.

  16. Christina

    I made something similar last week but added white beans (just rinsed from the can) and fresh squeezed lemon juice. It was delicious! I used chard for the green.

  17. Kate Steff

    I made this last Friday night. Used Red Chard, hot chicken sausage, a few mushrooms and sweet red bell peppers (sauted with the green onions).

    I drained the chard, as it gave off a lot of liquid, reserving about a 1/2 cup for tossing.

    It reheated well for lunch the next day, too. Boyfriend had TWO helpings on the first night – couldn’t get over how good it was.

  18. Laura Newton

    We made this with spanish onions, green peppers, kale and a big squeeze of lemon over each plate. It was delicious! The lemon really made a big difference. We also drizzled some herbed oil over the veggies before tossing them with the pasta. :) Yum!

  19. Novelismo

    Adding some sliced potatoes browned up crispy in butter or olive oil with chopped onion might raise this to another level of happiness …

  20. erica

    omg. love it! Just made this and it is great i added diced regular onions instead of green onion. i also used romano cheese instead of parmesan, and spinich instead of kale. It is great! This will be a main staple at my house!

  21. George

    Hi Elise, I just made this for dinner, and realized that I first made it when I read it on your blog almost 10 years ago! It’s been a staple in my repertoire ever since. I also remembered commenting on my blog back then that it seemed like it needed a big skillet to cook the recipe as written… :D

    Thanks for the great work!

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