A quick & easy recipe for pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage, a healthy, flavorful, and comforting dinner ready in 30 minutes.
Over the weekend we had our first snow; gentle, delicate flurries that drifted down peacefully from grey skies. It snowed last year too – our first year here in the Pacific Northwest – but just barely. This time it actually stuck, coating the already icy ground with an inch-or-two-thick blanket of lovely, pure-white snow. We had fun watching the pup romp around in it for a bit, but spent most of the day cozied up inside, escaping the cold, content to watch the snowflakes settling softly on the pines through the windows.
I do like the idea of starting the new year out fresh, with healthy-eating resolutions and veggie-packed, plant-powered fare. There is something rejuvenating about this time of year, but winter days like these still call for warm-you-up-from-the-inside comfort food. Hearty soups and stews and braises, and steamy bowls of pasta.
Green smoothies alone just aren’t gonna cut it.
Why you’ll love this broccoli and sausage pasta
This flavorful pasta dish is a perfect compromise: soul-satisfying in the way that a big bowl of pasta should be, but packed with healthier ingredients in the form of whole grain penne pasta, lots of garlic, and dark green, broccoli florets. I toss in some chicken sausage (studded with sundried tomatoes and italian herbs) and a good bit of Parmesan, because really, what is pasta without it?
Ingredients in this pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage recipe
This hearty weeknight pasta dinner is easy and healthy, and you likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now. Here’s what you’ll need:
- whole wheat pasta: grab a box of your favorite penne or rotini pasta, and cook it al dente in generously salted water. Don’t forget to save some of the starchy pasta water for the sauce!
- olive oil, onion, and garlic: a lovely trifecta of flavors to get this pasta dish going.
- butter: for an extra layer of flavor.
- chicken sausage: replaces traditional pork sausage. I like to use chicken and apple or Italian style sausage links here.
- broccoli: adds freshness and lots of dark green, cruciferous veggie nutrition. You can also try broccoli rabe or even fresh spinach or kale.
- parmesan cheese: for that deliciously salty, umami flavor. A match made in pasta heaven.
Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions below.
Broccoli vs broccolini vs broccoli rabe
Now, though this recipe is written for regular broccoli, I often prefer using tender broccolini. Sometimes labeled as “young/baby broccoli” in the grocery store, broccolini is actually a hybrid, crossed with Kai-lan, or Chinese kale. It has a sweeter flavor, longer, more tender stalk, and cooks to al dente perfection in a flash. If you can find it, go that route. If not, don’t sweat it.
You can also use rapini (also called broccoli rabe), which is a bit more bitter and a nice contrast to a sweeter sausage. And, standard broccoli is, of course, also delicious.
If you’re not a fan of broccoli/broccolini at all, you could also definitely use a combination of spinach, kale, Swiss chard, or other dark leafy green, instead.
How to customize your weeknight pasta
Like many pasta dishes, this broccoli and sausage pasta can be easily customized to your tastes, dietary needs, or what you have on hand.
- Load up the veggies: bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and peas would all be delicious.
- Make it gluten free: swap in your favorite brown rice, chickpea, legume, quinoa, or otherwise gluten free pasta.
- Give it a lemony twist: add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dusting of lemon zest.
However you mix it up, one of my favorite parts of this recipe is that the whole thing comes together super quickly. You start a big pot of salty pasta water boiling. Heat some olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté the broccoli and sausage. And everything’s ready to go by the time the whole-grain penne is cooked. After a quick toss together – and a generous dusting of cheese – a healthy, hearty, family-pleasing dinner is on the table in under half an hour.
Other healthy and delicious weeknight dinner recipes you’ll love:
- Lemony kale and white bean soup
- Weeknight spinach and goat cheese pasta
- Simple weeknight chicken ramen
- Ginger noodle soup with Swiss chard
If you make this pasta, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, LauraPrint