Shell Pasta with Sausage and Greens

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

  • 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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  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Novelismo

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!


  • 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.

  • Marcia

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.