Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

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

Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens
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. For this recipe he drew inspiration from Chef Joanne Weir, from her cooking program on 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. We all agreed that it is a keeper!

Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens
Elise Bauer

Ms. Weir's original recipe calls for broccoli rabe, but kale makes a perfectly fine substitution. Kale can be quite bitter on its own, but included in this dish there is no trace of bitterness. The kale accents the flavors of the sausage and cheese.

Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

For extra tang, squeeze a little lemon juice over everything before serving.


  • 1 pound (450 g) shell or Conchiglie pasta
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) water or chicken stock
  • 12 ounces (340 g) Italian sausage, sweet or hot, or a mixture of both
  • 12 ounces (340 g) 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 (25 g) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook pasta in salted water:

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

  2. Cook the greens in salted water:

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

  3. Lightly brown the sausage:

    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.

  4. Cook green onions and garlic:

    Add the chopped green onions to pan, sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

  5. Combine pasta, onions, sausage, greens, Parmesan:

    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.