Beans and greens sausage pasta is an easy-to-make dish loaded with flavors and of course, greens! Escarole and spinach, cannellini beans, and sweet fennel sausage are tossed with pasta in a garlicky white wine sauce and finished with plenty of Pecorino Romano. Sausage, beans, and greens pasta is perfect for weeknights because you've got all you need in one dish!
Escarole and bean soup or really any greens and beans are a winning combination because it's easy and healthy.
Add in some sausage and pasta, and you've got an EASY full meal.
Beans and greens sausage pasta is a regular in our home for these exact reasons and we're guessing you may add this to your weekly rotation too!
And as usual, we hope you'll use this recipe as inspiration to make it your own!
Add other greens, like kale or broccoli rabe, or make it spicy with hot cherry peppers. The possibilities are endless!
And, don't worry if you can't find escarole. Just double the amount of spinach.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons of kosher salt per gallon of water) to a boil. Chop 10 cloves of garlic.
- Remove the tough outer leaves and the tops of the escarole and roughly chop.
- Once the escarole is chopped, rinse it very well and run it through a salad spinner to remove excess water. Escarole can get pretty gritty so make sure you're rinsing it thoroughly. Note: You could also soak the escarole in a large pot or bowl and let the grit fall to the bottom of the pot. Use 2-3 water changes to remove the grit. I still think a salad spinner is the easier way to do this.
- In a very large pan, saute the sausage in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Use the back of a spoon to break up the sausage. After about 7 minutes the sausage should be browned and cooked through and can be moved to a separate plate, tented with foil, to stay warm.
- Add 6 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan along with the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until the garlic is golden. Add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Add the escarole along with ¼ cup of water and a pinch of salt and saute for 3 minutes. Note: The water will help stem the tough escarole and prevent the garlic from burning.
- Add 1 cup of dry white wine and turn the heat to high. After 2-3 minutes the liquid should be reduced by half. Turn the heat down to medium. At this point, you can begin boiling the pasta and cook until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans to the pan and sautee with the escarole. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash about half the beans. Add a few ladles of pasta water to keep the mixture moist. Note: Don't worry about the exact amount of water, since you will add more in the next steps.
- A few minutes before the pasta is ready, add the sausage back to the pan along with 1 cup of pasta water and mix well.
- Add the pasta to the pan and continue to cook, stirring frequently.
- Cook the pasta right until it reaches just al dente, then add 10 ounces of baby spinach and mix together. Cover the pan tightly then turn off the heat. The residual heat will wilt the spinach in roughly 2 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add ½ cup of grated Pecorino Romano and ¼ cup of minced parsley, giving it a toss to combine. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper levels. If the pasta is at all dry, add more of the reserved pasta water to get a perfect consistency. Serve with more Pecorino Romano and enjoy!
Top tips for sausage beans and greens pasta
- The greens. We love escarole and spinach for this recipe, but feel free to use other greens or combinations. Chard, kale, dandelion, and broccoli rabe would all be great with the sausage and pasta!
- The sausage. We used bulk sweet Italian sausage with fennel for this recipe. If you can't find bulk sausage, buy sausage links and remove the sausage from the casing. You can also keep the casing on and slice the sausage on a bias if you prefer. Or, you can omit the sausage entirely and make this a vegetarian meal. If you can't find fennel sausage but like the taste of fennel, add 1-2 teaspoons of fennel seeds while cooking the sausage.
- The wine. This recipe calls for a cup of dry white wine but for those who prefer to use no alcohol, you can simply omit the wine and replace it with a bit of pasta water to account for the difference in liquid.
- The pasta water. As mentioned above, you can use more pasta water to replace the wine, but pasta water is important in this dish even if you are using wine. Always reserve pasta water to bring the pasta back to life if it dries out too much. The sauce is made primarily of partly mashed beans and the starchy pasta water. It coats the pasta and leaves a glistening sheen to it.
- Additions. Our goal is to inspire you to make recipes your own. Beans and greens pasta with sausage is the perfect canvas for additions! Some ideas are adding olives, capers, hot cherry peppers, or cherry tomatoes.
More easy pasta dishes
Here are a few of our favorite easy pasta dishes, some with sausage, some with greens!
- Rigatoni primavera - Broccolini, asparagus, peas, zucchini, and yellow squash in a light pink cream sauce.
- Pasta alla Norcina - Sausage and pasta tossed in a creamy white wine sauce.
- Sausage pasta fagioli - crumbled sausage, cannellini and butter beans, and pasta simmered in a tomato-based broth.
- Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe - This iconic dish combines pasta, sausage, and broccoli rabe in a garlic and oil sauce.
- Pasta con broccoli - Orecchiette with broccoli, garlic, and oil.
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- 1 pound rigatoni
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 ½ pounds bulk fennel sausage see notes
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 10 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 bunch escarole rinsed and chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans drained
- 3 cups reserved pasta water will most likely not need all of it
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley minced
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- In a very large pan, saute the sausage in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Break up the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Once brown and cooked through (about 7 minutes) remove the sausage to a plate, tent with foil to keep warm, and set aside.
- Add the remaining olive oil and garlic to the pan and cook the garlic until golden (about 2 minutes) then add in the red pepper flakes and escarole along with a ¼ cup of water. Add a pinch of salt to the escarole and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and turn heat to medium-high. Reduce the liquid by half (about 2-3 minutes) then turn the heat down to medium once more. At this time begin boiling the pasta and cook to 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add the beans to the pan and saute with the escarole. Mash roughly half of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon. Add a couple of ladles of pasta water to keep everything moist.
- A few minutes before the pasta is ready add the sausage back to the pan along with 1 cup of pasta water and mix well.
- Add the pasta to the pan and continue to cook stirring frequently. Cook the pasta right until it reaches al dente then add the spinach and mix together. Cover the pan tightly then turn off the heat. The residual heat will wilt the spinach in roughly 2 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the Pecorino and parsley and toss to combine. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper levels. If the pasta is at all dry add more of the reserved pasta water to get the perfect consistency. Serve with more grated Pecorino. Enjoy!
- Double the amount of spinach if you can't find escarole.
- If you can't find fennel sausage, just add 1-2 teaspoons of fennel seeds while cooking the sausage.
- Wine can be omitted. Just add a bit more pasta water to make up the difference.
- Always reserve pasta water. If the pasta dries out before serving, just add a few ounces of the pasta water at a time to bring the consistency right back to perfect.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave.
This is what I request every time we go to an Italian restaurant. I have to order it off of the appetizer menu and then ask them to add the sausage and put it all over pasta! My favorite!! Time to make this! 😋
Hi Janis, sounds like we think similarly when it comes to food! Hope you enjoy the recipe!
Perfect for a rainy day. Family each had two servings for dinner and we divided up the leftovers into three servings for lunches.
Thanks, Andrew! This is definitely a good one to have left over. Enjoy!
Family loved this! The garlic and fennel combine great and the amount of pasta water was not excessive.
Hi Jim, so happy you enjoyed this one. Thanks!
Just discovered your YT channel, I'm inspired to work my way through your delicious-looking dishes. Subscribed!
However, I am single and cook for myself. Would you mind please including information about your recipes being freezer-friendly? I like to make a large batch of food and then freeze individual portions for lunches and easy dinners later in the week.
Hi Simon, thanks for the comment and so happy you're enjoying the channel! I usually will include instructions in the recipe notes or within the post about how to reheat leftovers. Some recipes freeze better than others - for example, a baked pasta like baked ziti will freeze well, while others (especially cream sauce pastas) do not freeze well.
I made this without sausage and with rainbow chard instead of escarole and twice the spinach. I only had one can of cannellini beans so I had to use a can of garbanzos. It still came out great. I'm not vegetarian but dishes like this could make me one.
Hi Jill, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed it!
This is one delicious dish! Our friend was not ready to eat when this was ready and it easily sat on the stove and was reheated along with a little pasta water.
I often can’t taste the food I cook the day I make it. But when I had it the next day it was so tasty! 😋 It is such an easy dish to make, too. First time making a dish where half the beans are smashed. Besides thickening the sauce it also helps alleviate any stress one might be having when cooking for company! 😂
Hi Kristine, I'm so happy you liked this one and appreciate your comment and review!
If I use sausage without the skins, will it have as good a taste as the bulk with fennel?
Hi Anita, whether you use the sausage with skin and remove from the casing or use the bulk, they should bot have a similar flavor.