Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

It recently came to my attention that the majority of people who enjoy making kale salads at home dispose of the leafy green stems, assuming they’re inedible. At a recent dinner party I witnessed just this, gasping as my host threw a pile of perfectly fine kale stems into the garbage. I’m a huge hater of food waste, so spent the next hour chatting at the table about all the wonderful ways we can maximize our groceries when cooking in the kitchen.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale
Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale Recipe

Kale is a bitter green and can often be swapped out in recipes that call for broccoli or rapini. One of my favourite recipes that features bitter greens is this classic rift on a popular pasta dish from Italy’s Puglia region. Orecchiette, is a distinct pasta from southeastern Italy that are shaped roughly like ears, hence the translation “little ears.” Puglia’s signature dish is orecchiette with broccoli raab, though in North America many Italian restaurant menus add sausage (winning!)

In this rendition of the classic I’ve swapped out broccoli for kale stems. A perfect way to reduce food waste in the kitchen while delighting guests with a truly heartwarming bowl of pasta.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale
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5 from 1 vote

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

Our recipe for Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale offers a rift on the classic Italian pasta recipe by swapping rapini for leftover kale stems.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Orecchiette with Kale, Orecchiette with Sausage, Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale
Servings: 6
Calories: 729kcal


  • 1 lb orecchiette
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb spicy chorizo sausage removed from casings
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups kale stems and leaves
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente.
  • In a medium frying pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and kale stems, cooking over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low, slowly cooking the stems so they soften for approximately 8 minutes. The kale stems are finished cooking once they are tender but still offer a crunch when bitten into.
  • In a large skillet, crumble sausage into the pan and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon or spatula, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat and add the garlic, cook for another minute.
  • Add the remaining olive oil, chicken broth, kale, and butter. Stir frequently for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan until the sauce reduces slightly.


Calories: 729kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.8g | Protein: 26.6g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 13.3g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 809mg | Potassium: 374mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2.8g | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 2mg
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