Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Quick and EasyItalian SausageKalePasta

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. 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

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


  • 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


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 / Reviews

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Marcia

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

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Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens