Broccoli and Sausage Pasta is a flavorful dish made with small shell pasta, Italian sausage, broccoli, and fresh spinach with a little kick from crushed red pepper flakes. Try my Smoked Sausage Pasta for another sausage pasta dish.
Broccoli and Sausage Pasta
This dish was meant to possibly be a soup, but it ended up as a delicious pasta dish as the liquid was absorbed. You get your vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, all in one course. It is full of flavor and easy to make and get on the dinner table.
Broccoli and Sausage Pasta Ingredients
Broccoli: I prefer fresh broccoli for this broccoli and sausage pasta, but you could get away with using frozen broccoli that has been thawed. If using frozen broccoli, there is no need to blanch it (so skip steps 1-3 in the recipe). Simply add the thawed broccoli when you add the broth, pasta shells, and spinach.
Italian sausage: I like the flavor of Italian sausage for this recipe, but for a leaner soup, try it with Italian seasoned ground turkey. Another delicious option is to use ground beef. If you do make this dish with ground beef, leave out the oil and season the beef with salt and pepper.
Red Pepper Flakes: The red pepper flakes give the dish a little kick to each spoonful. But, you could leave those out if you prefer.
The first step in this recipe is to blanch the broccoli. All you need for this is a pot of salted boiling water and a bowl of ice water nearby. When the water gets to a boil, put in the broccoli and let it cook for 3 minutes. It should be bright green after a few minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli into the ice water immediately. This ‘shocking’ will stop the broccoli from cooking any longer. Set that aside as you prepare the rest of the recipe.
How to Make Broccoli and Sausage Pasta
To make this pasta recipe, use the same pot as you just cooked the broccoli (with the water drained, of course). Heat up the oil over medium heat until the oil is sizzling. Cook the Italian sausage, breaking it apart with a spoon as it’s cooking. This will take 5-8 minutes, or until the sausage is firm and not releasing any more liquid (an internal temperature of 160°F).
Once the sausage has been cooked, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for only about a minute. Next, add the chicken broth, pasta shells, broccoli, and spinach. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked. To keep the pasta submerged under the water (to cook), place the spinach on top to keep the pasta from rising to the top.
Finally, stir in half the parmesan cheese.
Important to note: This will look very runny right away. (Like a brothy soup.) In 8-10 minutes most of the liquid will absorb into the pasta and vegetables and very little liquid will remain. You can eat it at any time after cooking, but we prefer to enjoy it after about 10 minutes off the heat.
When ready, serve the dish with the remaining parmesan cheese on top and a side of homemade breadsticks. Store leftovers in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to three days.
Looking for More Pasta Dishes?
Broccoli and Sausage Pasta
Broccoli and Sausage Pasta is a flavorful dish made with pasta, Italian sausage, broccoli, and fresh spinach with a little kick from the crushed red pepper flakes.
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 8 ounces small shell pasta
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
Fill a medium-sized bowl ⅔ full with ice water. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add water, filling ⅔ of the way to the top. Add a pinch of salt and heat to boiling.
Add broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Drain water and place broccoli into the ice water bath. Set aside.
To the same pot, add oil over medium heat. Once sizzling, add Italian sausage. Cook the meat through (about 5-8 minutes) breaking the meat up with your spoon as it cooks. Add garlic and red pepper and cook for 1 more minute.
Add broth, shells, broccoli, and spinach and cook for 10-12 more minutes, or until the noodles have cooked through and the spinach is wilted. (I like to put the spinach on the top to keep the pasta under the water to cook.) Stir occasionally.
Finally, stir in ½ cup of parmesan cheese, reserving the other half for the topping.
Serve hot, topped with remaining parmesan cheese.*
*This will look very runny right away. (Like a brothy soup.) In 8-10 minutes most of the liquid will absorb into the pasta and vegetables and very little liquid will remain. You can eat it at any time after cooking, but we prefer to enjoy it after about 10 minutes off the heat.