Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recipe for Pasta with Italian Sausage and Collard Greens

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Collard Greens
Collard greens, garlic, and red pepper flakes are tossed with browned turkey Italian sausage and pasta in this easy and delicious recipe.  If you haven't warmed up to collards, use any type of greens you'd like!

(Updated with greatly improved photos and better instructions, April 2013.)  This easy and delicious recipe for Pasta with Italian Sausage and Collard Greens was adapted from one of my most-used cookbooks, Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World.  I've been cooking from this book since I first discovered it in 2006, and haven't found a bad recipe yet.   My version of this classic dish uses nutritious dark green collard greens, and I'm also using turkey Italian sausage, since it's lower in fat and turkey is one of the Superfoods.  I also used more collards and sausage in proportion to the macaroni to make this more nutritious. When I first made Hopping John Soup I discovered how much I liked collard greens, and the only time I might change when I make this again is to double the collard greens for even more veggie goodness.

If you're starting with uncooked turkey Italian sausage, first simmer them in a small amount of water until the sausage is barely cooked and firm.

While sausage cooks, cut the collards into ribbons and wash in a salad spinner (or in the sink.)  Cook the collards for about 5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. 

Slice the cooked sausage into rounds.

Brown sausage in a generous amount of olive oil.  (The oil stays in the pan to saute the garlic, red pepper flakes, and greens, and it seasons the pasta, so don't cut it down too much.)

When the collards have cooked 5 minutes, remove them from the water, add salt, bring back to a boil, and add the the macaroni (or other pasta shape) to the same water and cook until it's barely al dente.  Then drain well, saving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  (I used Dreamfields macaroni, but whole wheat pasta might be even better for South Beach, since the pasta is warmed again after it's cooked.  (Follow that link if you don't know how re-cooking changes the low-carb aspect of Dreamfields.)  

Remove the browned sausage and add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes. 

Then add the collard greens and cook until they're heated through, about 2 minutes more.
Add the sausage and pasta into the pan with barely enough pasta cooking water to moisten the dish and cook just until the pasta and sausage are heated.  Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to pass at the table.

And just for fun, here is my original one-and-only photo of this recipe from 2006, which I probably thought was pretty good at the time!

Pasta with Sausage and Collard Greens
(Makes 4 generous servings, recipe adapted from The Best Recipes in the World.)

1 bunch collard greens (about 1 lb.) stems removed, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced crosswise into half inch slices (Use more greens if you'd like.)
2-3 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1 tsp. hot pepper flakes (optional)
3 links hot turkey Italian Sausage (or more)
1 cup (7 oz.) Dreamfields macaroni or whole wheat macaroni (about half a box of Dreamfields)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Bring small pot of water to boil, add sausage and cook at low simmer 10 minutes. Let sausage cool and slice.

Bring large pot of water to a boil, add sliced collards and boil 5-7 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Remove collards from water and drain, keeping water in the pot and bringing it back to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and a generous amount of salt and cook 9-10 minutes, until done but still quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, in large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil. Add sliced sausage and brown until well browned on both sides. Remove sausage.

Add remaining T olive oil (if desired, I didn't need it) and garlic (and red pepper if using) and cook 2 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to get browned sausage bits. Add collards and saute 2 minutes, then add sausage, pasta, and enough cooking liquid to moisten dish, and cook 2 minutes more or until the pasta and sausage are heated through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

South Beach Suggestions:
I first made this recipe long before I knew that Dreamfields loses its low-carb aspect when it's re-cooked, so now I would consider this phase 3 for the South Beach Diet if made with Dreamfields.  If you use whole wheat or other whole-grain pasta, this would be suitable for phase 2 or 3 for South Beach dieters.  (Use more greens and sausage if you want to make the dish even lower in carbs.)

Nutritional Information? I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Recipe Ideas for Pasta with Greens:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Pasta with Sauteed Swiss Chard ~ Jeanette's Healthy Living
Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun-Dried tomatoes ~ Simply Recipes
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic, Chard, and Pecorino-Romano Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Quinoa Spaghetti with Garlicky Greens and Tomatoes ~ Aggies Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)  

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Erin Cooks made this recipe and has a great photo of the finished dish.)

This recipe was first posted for an event called ARF/5-A-Day at Sweetnicks.
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. This looks really delicious. I had just bought Mark Bittman's book and had great plans when I broke my knee. Have really enjoyed reading it & getting ideas. Will put it on my list of "to try soon". Thanks.

  2. Fran, this book is amazing. If you want to see what recipes I've tried, you could find them by using the search box on my site and typing in "The Best Recipes in the World". I have loved everything I've made from it.

  3. Brendon at Something in Season is also a fan of this cookbook, Kalyn. I'll have to look it up at the bookstore next trip.

    [I've never made collards, believe it or not!]

  4. Looks delicious. I want to mention that I really like the mushrooms in your mast too. Aren't mushrooms the greatest?

  5. I am so getting that book. All the recipes you're making from it are inspiring me. I walked by it the other day in Barnes and totally thought of you..

  6. you have an email? i'm disturbed by something...and i gotta let it out! well, instead of posting it just email me monasapple at gmail.
    :) thanks!
    (nothing on your site...)

  7. That sounds sooo good! I love pasta, I love sausages, and I definitely adore collard greens... Thus that dish must be out of this world :D But there's a catch! They don't sell collard greens here in Finland :( Just the root part of the plant... The leaves are thrown away before shipping to stores. That's just plain wrong I tell ya :)

  8. I made this for dinner last night and it was awesome! I received a huge bunch of collard greens in my weekly csa box and I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but then I found your recipe. Of course I didn't use low carb pasta, but I really enjoyed the fact that the dish took on such great flavors from cooking the turkey sausage and collard greens in the same pot as the pasta. The red pepper flakes and garlic were a fabulous addition as well. Thank you for making us aware of this recipe!

  9. Erin, so glad you liked it. I have a neighbor who loves this dish! I think collard greens are so delicious too, that's what made me try the recipe in the first place.

  10. I'm absolutely going to have to try this recipe! I love this book and have only had success from it so far.
    I love collards and have a recipe I've developed on my site.
    Your site looks great!


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