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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:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

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    54 Comments on “Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes”

  1. Kalyn: I LOVE your recipes, and have been using them for years. For this one, I’d like to make it all in advance and then heat when guests arrive. Other bloggers have suggested (for similar recipes) that baking would work. I’m not sure if baking, or nuking, or heating on the stove would be best. Any ideas? Thanks so much, I really appreciate all you do.

    • Glad you have been enjoying the recipes! Unfortunately I’d have to say this is a recipe that is not that suitable to making ahead and reheating, since both the pasta and the greens should only be cooked to a certain point and they won’t be good if they’re overcooked. But if you are talking about making it just slightly before people arrive, I think you could keep it warm in a slow cooker for maybe up to an hour before it starts to get too soggy. I don’t think microwaving or the oven would give good results, sorry!

  2. Kristin, so glad you enjoyed it. I think Italian sausage and kale are a great combo!

  3. I stumbled upon this recipe post a couple months ago and just wanted to say thanks – this is one of my favorite things to make. Had never tried kale before, this was a great way to start. I was thinking I might get a can of diced tomatoes to add to the mix as well and see how that turns out. Anyway, thanks again 🙂

  4. It's my mom's birthday and I will be starting this recipe in a couple of hours. This is the last of my collards from the garden. Will let you know if they like it.

  5. I think this will be great with collards! They will cook a little faster than the kale, I'm guessing.

  6. I want to cook this with collards. I have collards in my garden.

  7. Allison, so glad everyone enjoyed it!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe! It is my family's first time eating kale and I had a daunting task in using up my new CSA veggie. No complaints from the boys (even my husband!) and I can't wait for the leftovers tomorrow! Yummy!!

  9. Thanks for that nice feedback; glad you're enjoying the recipes.

  10. I am LOVING your website. This is the third recipe I have tried from your site this week and it was delicious! I definitely going to be trying many more recipes from your site 😀

  11. So glad you liked it! I loved this too when I came up with the recipe. Now that I have garden kale again, I need to make it.

  12. Whoa, this was AWESOME!!!!! Used Dreamfields pasta but this tasted like SUCH an indulgence!! I browned the sausage in a big pot, then scooped them out to drain. I put the garlic and kale in the same pot to wilt down in the sausage juices too (probably not as healthy since I didn't technically drain the sausage fat, but sooooooo yummy!) Then I threw the pasta and sausage back into that big pot, added a generous amount of the pasta cooking water. Right before serving, even though it was still a big soupy, I drizzled some EVOO on the pasta and threw in the grated parm, stirred a bit and the whole thing thickened up to this amazingly creamy deliciousness!!!! YUMMMM!!!!! Better than most pasta I've eaten at nice restaurants!

  13. I just made this with quinoa instead of pasta and it was so good! The only thing I noticed was that with 2 cups of broth/stock, it was very soupy. I let most of the water boil off and then just ladled some out and it was perfect. I think this will become a staple!