Kale and Sausage Pasta (Gluten-Free)

kale and sausage pasta

This is a fantastic winter dish that is hearty, comforting and chock full of seasonal greens. If you’ve never tried kale before this is a good starting point — its flavor is nicely toned down complemented by the Italian sausage and Parmesan cheese. I typically make this with Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato or dinosaur), but feel free to use a different variety. Spinach is a good substitute for the kale, if you prefer — it just needs to be wilted, so stir it in at the same time as the Parmesan.

Kale and Sausage Pasta

Preparation Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Serves: 4 as a main course


  • 12 ounces (340 grams or about 2 bunches) kale
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) brown rice fusilli (aka corkscrews or spirals)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams or about 4 cloves) minced garlic, lightly packed
  • 1 pound (454 grams) hot Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (56 grams) finely grated Parmesan cheese


Prepare Kale:

Trim and remove tough center ribs from the kale; tear or cut into roughly 1” pieces, set aside. (After trimming, you will have about 8 ounces of kale.)

Cook Pasta:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a few tablespoons of salt and cook pasta until about 2 minutes shy of al dente (about 6 minutes). Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta into a colander and rinse with cold water until chilled.

Braise Kale:

Dry the pot you used to cook the pasta and place it over medium heat. Warm the olive oil in the pot until it shimmers. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Stir in sausage, red pepper flakes (if using) and cinnamon; cook until browned, breaking up the lumps so the sausage is crumbled. Stir in chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Mix in kale, cover pot and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the kale is tender.

Toss Pasta and Serve:

Add drained pasta back into the pot along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until it is reheated — about 2 minutes. Remove pot from the heat, stir in Parmesan cheese, thin with additional pasta water (if desired) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

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  • Reply
    Amy + Derek Dowsett
    February 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Heather,
    This looks delish! I’m going to try it but without the pasta. I’m going to go completely grain-free as opposed to gluten-free. Are you celiac or just trying to cut out gluten?

  • Reply
    February 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you, I hope you enjoy! Here’s an idea for a grain-free base instead of the pasta–it’s really versatile if you omit the rosemary, tomato, and onion:


    The short answer is I’ve just cut out gluten due to a suspected allergy and as management for Crohn’s disease. I’ve definitely noticed a remarkable improvement in my health since I started!

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