Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Shell pasta with sausage and greens, made with shell pasta, Italian sausage, and kale or broccoli rabe.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. shell or ear-shaped "Conchiglie" pasta
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 lb Italian sausage, sweet or hot, or a mixture of both
  • 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, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp of salt). Add the pasta and cook as directed on the package, until al dente.

2 While pasta is being prepared, heat 1 1/2 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan until simmering. Add the kale or rabe and cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. Strain and set aside.

3 While greens are cooking, remove the sausage from their casings (if in links) and crumble onto a large sauté pan. Heat on medium heat and gently cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan to a bowl, set aside. Add the chopped green onions to pan, sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

4 When pasta is done, drain and add to the pan with the green onions. Add the sausage and kale (or rabe) to the pan and toss to combine. Sprinkle with 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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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

  • 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.

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Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens