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Kalyn's Kitchen

Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes

This Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes might be the tastiest thing I’ve ever made with kale (so far!) Use Pasta Recipes for more ideas like this one.

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 Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes found on KalynsKitchen.com

I couldn’t stop eating this Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes, so I’m posting the recipe right away as a Public Service Announcement for anyone who has kale in their garden or CSA box. I devoured this for lunch two days in a row, and I’m pretty sure I would have eaten it again the next day but my brother Rand stopped by and I gave him the leftovers.

The recipe started as nothing more than an idea inspired by a huge bunch of kale I trimmed from my plants and some Colosimos Hot Italian Sausage leftover from a party that needed to be used.  I looked at a few recipes that with kale and Italian sausage before deciding to make pasta, and then just made up the recipe as I went along.  If you don’t have kale I think you could also make this with spinach or chard, but the way the kale became tender and sweet in this dish will probably make a kale convert out of you if you’re not sure whether you like it! And if you’d like a more carb-conscious version of this dish, just use a lot more sausage and kale and less pasta and it will still be delicious!

 Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes found on KalynsKitchen.com

Utah’s Colosimos Hot Italian Sausage is really flavorful and this recipe doesn’t have a huge amount of sausage, but if you’re making this for the South Beach Diet it would be best to use hot turkey Italian sausage.  Saute the sausage in a tiny bit of olive oil until it’s nicely browned. In a very large frying pan put the olive oil, six large cloves of coarsely chopped fresh garlic, and some red pepper flakes.  Turn on the heat and cook just until you can start to smell garlic. (Don’t let the garlic brown.) Then add 8 oz. of very thinly sliced kale leaves.  (I didn’t measure it but I’d say this is about 12 cups of thinly sliced kale.   Next time I might even use more kale!) Saute the kale with the garlic, turning it over a few times until all the kale is wilted. Then add the browned sausage to the pan with 2 cups of homemade chicken stock (or use a can of chicken broth.)  Turn this to low and let it simmer gently while you cook the pasta.

 Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes found on KalynsKitchen.com

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  (I used Dreamfields Rotini, which I thought was perfect for this dish, but you could use any kind of whole wheat, gluten-free, or regular pasta of your choice.  I’d pick a shape like this or a short pasta like penne.) Gently combine the drained pasta with the kale/sausage mixture, adding as much of the reserved pasta cooking water as you want to get the amount of moistness you prefer.  (I used about half the water.) Then mix in the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese and serve the pasta hot, with extra cheese to add at the table.  (This kept overnight in the fridge very well and I just reheated it in the microwave in a glass dish covered with a paper towel.)

 Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Tasty Recipes with Kale:

Kale and Feta Breakfast Casserole from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Low-Carb Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna Casserole from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Artichoke, Kale, and Ricotta Pie with Eggs and Parmesan from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes

This Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes might be the tastiest thing I’ve ever made with kale (so far!)


  • 3 links (12 oz) hot Italian sausage (use hot turkey Italian sausage for South Beach Diet)
  • 8 oz. kale leaves, thinly sliced (about 12 cups thinly sliced kale)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (I would not use garlic from a jar for this recipe)
  • 3 T + 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (use more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 pkg. (13.25 oz.) Dreamfields Rotini pasta (or use your favorite whole wheat, gluten-free, or regular pasta in a shape like this)
  • salt for pasta cooking water (at least 1 T)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Heat the 1 or 2 tsp. olive oil in a small frying pan, squeeze sausage out of casings, and cook until sausage is nicely browned, breaking apart with a turner as it cooks.  (If you use hot turkey Italian sausage  you’ll need 2 tsp. of olive oil; sausage with more fat will not need as much oil.)
  2. While the sausage is cooking, wash kale leaves and shake dry (they don’t need to be perfectly dry.)  Pile up a stack of leaves and then thinly slice them crosswise, continuing until you have about 12 cups of thinly sliced kale leaves.
  3. Slice the garlic cloves and then coarsely chop.
  4. In a large heavy frying pan (big enough to hold all the pasta when it’s cooked) put the 3 T olive oil, garlic, and hot pepper flakes.
  5. Turn heat to medium and cook until you can barely start to smell garlic, then add the thinly sliced kale.  (Don’t let the garlic brown.)  Cook kale and garlic 2-3 minutes, turning over several times, until the kale is all wilted.
  6. Add chicken stock or broth and cooked sausage to the kale and lower heat to a gentle simmer.  Let this simmer while you cook the pasta.
  7. Fill a medium-large pot half full with water, add a generous amount of salt, and bring the water to a boil.
  8. Add pasta, stir, lower heat, and cook until barely al-dente, following package directions for cooking times.  (I cooked the Dreamfields Rotini exactly 9 minutes.)  Save 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
  9. Gently mix the cooked pasta into the sausage/kale mixture, adding as much pasta cooking water as you think you need for it to be moist enough.  (I used about half the water.)
  10. Then mix in the Parmesan cheese and serve pasta hot, with extra Parmesan cheese to add at the table.


This kept very well in the fridge overnight.  I reheated it in the microwave in a glass bowl covered with a paper towel.

Recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from many recipes she saw online.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions: 
If you’re making this Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet, use hot turkey Italian sausage and whole-grain or low-carb pasta.  This isn’t a terribly low-fat dish due to the sausage, olive oil, and Parmesan so I would limit it to a moderate portion size with a big green salad on the side. This would be too high in carbs for most low-carb diet plans, but you could make a version with more sausage and kale and a lot less pasta that would be a pretty carb-conscious dish.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
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    54 Comments on “Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes”

  1. Melissa, so glad you liked it!

  2. Hi Kalyn. 🙂 I made this last night with just a few tweaks (a bit more of almost all the ingredients) and we loooooved it. I cannot wait to eat my leftovers for lunch today. Thanks a bunch for the awesome recipe!

  3. Thanks for the pasta recipe. The dish looks very colorful and delicious.

  4. Sandy, so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Glor recommended this recipe on her blog and it did not disappoint! Thanks so much for the recipe, it was delicious… we have found a new favorite in kale!

  6. Mike, I'm reading these in reverse order in e-mail! I think goat cheese sounds great in this.

  7. Grace, glad you liked it. I don't think I've seen that type of black kale.

  8. I made this recipe last night and it was delicious. Next time I make it I will make homemade hot italian sausage and I think I would substitute 1/2 of the chicken stock for heavy cream. I think that would be wonderful. I used a kale that I'd never seen before – black kale (broad flat leaves), as well as the regular curly kind. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Yum. Looks simple and delish! I might add some goat cheese. Really a perfect combination of ingredients.

  10. Glor, so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  11. We just finished eating this … what can I say, another keeper! It was loved by everyone! Thanks for such great recipes.

  12. Jamie, I cut my kale in the garden much smaller than the kale you get in the store so that's why it's smaller, curlier, and lighter. It's also more tender when you cut it young.

  13. Mmmm I love kale but I just don't cook with it often enough. It's delicious and so healthy! But funny your kale looks smaller, paler and curlier than the kale I am used to seeing. Why?

  14. Thanks for the nice feedback Jen. I look forward to hearing how that works. I would love to have some of that in the freezer myself.

  15. Thank you, Kalyn. I'll follow your advice, make a batch to freeze and will let you know how it turns out. (No doubt fab–I've never had a clunker from this site!)

    Best, Jen from NYC (anonymous poster from 3:57)

  16. BTW, if you were making the sausage/kale mixture to freeze, I might not cook it down quite so much; then you could do that when you cook the pasta. Love to hear how this turns out if you try it!

  17. I'm not really sure how this will freeze, because there's not a lot of liquid in the sauce. It will definitely keep in the fridge for several days though. I think you could make the sausage/kale mixture and freeze that; then cook the pasta when you want to serve it.

  18. This looks incredible. I'd love to do some batch cooking and make a bunch for work lunches. Do you think it will freeze well?

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  19. Cooking Creation, now I am thinking about making it again! Hey, it's kale, right?

    Jackie, that's a good idea to make two pans of it. You could use mild sausage and just put a little more red pepper in the adult version. Yes, I have made kale chips and posted a recipe for Roasted Kale Chips with Sea Salt and Vinegar. I do like them a lot!

  20. Hi,

    This dish looks delicious but I'd probably have to substitute sweet or mild sausage since I have small children or prepare both mild & spicy separately as my husband and I would love the hot one!

    You probably have heard of a super simple snack you can make with Kale – Kale chips. If not, just spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place dry pieces of kale on sheet. you can spray them as well if you like and likely sprinkle with sea salt. Then bake to desired crispiness. It's a beloved, healthy snack in our home. Only I have to make like 5 pans because they get gobbled up pretty quickly 🙂