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Whole Wheat Penne with Sausage, Cannellini, and Kale

kale pasta

I was listening to my favorite channel on SiriusXM, Cosmo Radio (Sirius 111, XM 162), and there's a show that airs every Thursday from 1-3pm est called "Cosmo Life with Victoria" where Victoria shares tips on beauty (hair care, makeup, etc.), fashion, lifestyle, and FOOD!  It's a great show jam packed with so many great tips that I highly recommend it.  If you're female... it's a no brainer.  Check out Victoria's blog here to keep up with all her tips and recipes.

So anyway, on last week's show, Victoria had Dr. Lindsey Duncan in as her guest and he was a wealth of knowledge on nutrition, and more importantly... SUPER FOODS.  There's food that's good for you, and then there's super foods.  You know, the ones that like, I don't know, help to prevent cancer and stuff?  I'm a fan.  One of the super foods mentioned was kale.  If you're a kale fan already, then you know how delicious it is and how great it makes you feel when you incorporate it into your meals.  How super is kale you ask?  Here's a little bit about kale:

  • Kale's risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. 
  • Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale's flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.  
  • Kale is a natural source of antioxidant vitamin A, which helps support eye and skin health and may help protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals.

As soon as I heard Dr. Lindsey mention kale on the show, I immediately thought of one of my favorite things to make for a weeknight dinner.  This pasta made with sausage, onions, kale, and cannellini beans is so delicious and good for you that you'll want to make it a part of your regular dinner rotation.  It's also pretty quick and easy to make, which makes it great for weeknights and it makes enough to take leftovers for lunch the next day, too.  Find out how to make it after the jump. 

Start by boiling some salted water and cooking 1 lb. of whole wheat penne according to the box directions.  When the pasta is done, reserve some of the pasta water and set the pasta aside to be added to the dish later.

While the pasta is boiling, brown up some sausage in a little olive oil.  I've used Italian sausage, fennel sausage, and breakfast sausage for this...  it's really up to you.  Spicy works well in this dish so use whatever you like or whatever you have on hand. 


Once the sausage has browned, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.  Your pan should have remnants of the sausage hanging around just waiting to be turned into flavor. 

Next, add a little more olive oil to the pan and throw in the chopped onions. Saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Use your wooden spoon to scrape up the brown sausage bits as the onions cook to incorporate all that flavor.


After the onions are tender, pour in about a cup of chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Again, use your wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits and stir up the mixture.

It will look like this:


Simmer this mixture for just a couple minutes - the liquid will reduce by about half. 

While the onions are simmering, chop off the stems at the end of the stalks of kale, then chop the kale up into about 2x2" squares.  Rinse off the kale in a colander, then add it to the onion mixture.


Season the onion/kale mixture with fresh ground sea salt and black pepper, along with a pinch of red pepper flake. If you like it spicy, add a bigger pinch. If you're not sure, be conservative... you can always add more at the end or when it's served.  Stir up the mixture, set the heat to low and cover for a few minutes until the kale is wilted.


After the kale is wilted, take the cover off and add the sausage back to the pan, along with 2 cans of cannellini beans.  Stir to combine.


Add the cooked pasta and two small ladles of the pasta water.  The starch from the pasta water helps the other ingredients to stick to the pasta.


Stir again, then sprinkle 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese all over the pasta, then hit it with some extra virgin olive oil.  Turn off the heat and cover the pan until you're ready to serve.  You can add the rest of the Parmesan cheese to the pasta when served.


The first time you make this pasta, it may take a little longer because you've never made it before.  But once you learn this technique, the next time you find yourself with these ingredients on hand, you'll be able to whip up this healthy and delicious pasta in no time.  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Penne with Sausage, Cannellini, and Kale

Healthy, delicious pasta perfect for a weeknight meal.

See Whole Wheat Penne with Sausage, Cannellini, and Kale on Key Ingredient.

Reader photos of this recipe:

reader pic kale pasta

Prepared by Jennifer (@MidKidJen on Twitter)


  1. Looks good. Kale hads a flavor to this recipe. Many people do not like kale, but I do. I like different foods.

    recipe club

  2. This is amazing.... I am a celiac and this is good even with out the pasta!!!

  3. This looks really good! Thanks for sharing


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