Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Quick and EasyItalian SausageKalePasta and Noodles

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

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. 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!

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Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

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 Recipe

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

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


  • 1 pound (450 g) shell or ear-shaped "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.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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23 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. 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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  2. 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!

  3. Novelismo

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

  4. 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!


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  5. 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.


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