Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

A quick & easy recipe for pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage, a healthy, flavorful, and comforting dinner ready in 30 minutes. Gluten free friendly.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

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.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

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?

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

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.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

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.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

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:

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, Laura

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage | via forkknifeswoon.com

Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage


Description

A quick & easy recipe for pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage, a healthy, flavorful, and comforting dinner ready in 30 minutes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 lb uncooked whole wheat penne pasta ¹
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, minced
  • 4 (3 oz) links cooked/smoked chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces ²
  • 3 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions (about 11 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-heat, until the butter is melted and the oil just begins to shimmer.
  3. Add the garlic and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped sausage to the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. During the last two minutes of cooking, add the chopped broccoli to the pasta pot. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  6. Add the drained pasta, broccoli, and reserved pasta water to the skillet with the sausage. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm with an extra dusting of Parmesan. Enjoy!

Notes

¹ Make it gluten-free: Switch out the pasta for a gluten-free version. My favorite by far is Jovial brown rice pasta, which tastes as much like the “real” thing as any I’ve tried.

² You can also substitute broccolini (sometimes labeled as young or baby broccoli), broccoli rabe, or another favorite green for the broccoli.

  • Category: Dinner, Pasta
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage, broccoli and sausage pasta, weeknight pasta, broccoli, chicken, sausage, garlic, penne

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23 Comments

  1. 2.16.21
    Lori Dibler said:

    So after reading the comments I made a few adjustments. I used Chicken Apple sausage. I cooked the Brocoli before the sausage in the pan after the onions were mostly done. Before adding the pasta broth I cooked down a cube of chicken bullion in it. I also added some Weber’s Garlic and Herb seasoning. Came out fantastic, will be making it again. Thank you for this recipe.

  2. 2.4.18
    Shabreah said:

    How many calories in each serving please?

  3. 1.5.18
    Ingrid said:

    I’ll be making this for dinner with friends tomorrow night, as I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while and it seems like a good cold weather not-too-unhealthy meal! Wondering if I could add a little goat cheese for creaminess and flavor to the sauce. Anyone tried that?

    • 1.5.18
      Laura said:

      Hi, Ingrid! I would never, ever discourage you from adding goat cheese (to just about any pasta dish)! It would be super yummy here. Enjoy!! 😊

  4. 12.11.17
    RuthAnn L. said:

    Awesome recipe! Made it with kale and it was sooo good. Just a tad on the saltier side.. but overall so yummy!

  5. 7.7.17
    Katie Rodriguez said:

    Made this tonight. I was so excited to try but it was incredibly bland. After all, the “sauce” is just pasta water and cheese. I even used some sausage that had lots of flavor. I was really excited and it looked so good, but I was disappointed.

  6. 5.23.17
    Melissa said:

    Does it have enough flavor without a sauce? Is it bland?

  7. 9.13.16
    Natalie said:

    I made this tonight and it was great. We went back for seconds. The only thing I changed was added some diced fresh tomatoes to the top which added extra color and flavor. Will be making this again, thank you!

    • 9.14.16
      Laura said:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks, Natalie!

  8. 1.15.16
    Pam said:

    For whatever reason I can’t get any of these recipes to print . Has anyone else had this problem ? And I have two different printers.

    • 1.15.16
      Laura said:

      Hi Pam! I’m sorry you’re having an issue with the recipe printing – I will definitely look into it. Would you mind sharing which browser you use?

  9. 1.11.16
    Aysegul said:

    I am hungry just looking at this dish. I love how practical, healthy, and easy-to-make this is.
    Best meal for the chilly weather outside!
    XOXO

    • 1.11.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks so much, Aysegul! XO!

  10. 1.7.16

    Hi, Laura! Any recommendation on whole wheat pasta brands?

    • 1.7.16
      Laura said:

      Hi Lydia! I’m honestly not super picky (give me just about any pasta and I’ll be a happy girl), but I am a big fan of Delallo organic whole wheat penne and often buy the Whole Foods 365 brand organic pastas. If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, I don’t think you can beat Jovial’s brown rice pastas. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • 1.7.16

        Thank you! I make my own “regular” pastas- but the whole wheat and gluten-free, I’ve not had much success with. So the info is VERY useful.

  11. 1.7.16

    The perfect winter meal — healthy, hearty and beautiful!

    • 1.7.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks so much, Nicole! Hope you are enjoying lots of snuggle time with your little one!

  12. 1.7.16

    I’m with you on the broccoli rabe, I love it’s slightly bitter bite.

  13. 1.7.16
    Joan said:

    This looks like a great way to start the New Year — healthy, but hearty!

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

All photography and content copyright Laura Bolton ©2021.