Veggie-Loaded Pasta with Sausage 

By Ann Fulton

Veggie-Loaded Pasta with Sausage - an array of colorful vegetables meld easily into the comfort and flavor of a satisfying pasta dish.
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Reader tested and family approved, this complete meal comes together easily and is equal parts healthy and satisfying. A few tips provide added convenience at dinnertime-and for those who’ve tried gluten-free pasta and been unimpressed, I have a helpful hint that might change your mind.



When I cook pasta, I typically aim to work a lot of veggies into the dish. It’s a great way to make a carb-based meal more nutrient dense. Plus, the vibrant colors of garden-fresh veggies add visual appeal.

This complete meal comes together easily, especially when the chopping has been done in advance. And you know those plastic deli bags that grocery stores provide for our apples, oranges and cucumbers as we’re rounding up our produce? I save them to use as storage bags for prepped veggies. It’s a small way to reuse instead of reaching for new.

Veggie-Loaded Pasta with Sausage - an array of colorful vegetables meld easily into the comfort and flavor of a satisfying pasta dish.

Several readers have tested this recipe, and all reports came back positive. Comments included the following:

  • It was welcome change from all the heavily sauces pasta dishes I usually serve.
  • I appreciate the all-in-one aspect. No fuss and you can change up the add-ins if desired.
  • I used bulk pork sausage because I had some in the freezer. Wonderful easy meal!
  • Leftovers make a super lunch. I like to top with additional Parmesan.
  • My kids actually ate vegetables!!! (Note: This comment make the next one especially amusing!)
  • My kids cleaned their plates-but only after picking every bit of veg out. Oh well gotta keep trying! 😂
dinosaur kale

I opt for a fully cooked turkey or chicken sausage, but as one of the commenters mentioned, you could use your favorite pork sausage. If using an uncooked variety, simply brown it until cooked through and then remove to the plate as mentioned.

As for the pasta, I reach for a short, tubular or spiral shape. My family thinks it’s easier to eat in this dish than a long noodle like spaghetti or linguine, although you could try if you wish.

Of course, pasta comes in a multitude of shapes and sizes, but nowadays we can also find noodles made with an impressive array of ingredients.

I often prepare pasta recipes with gluten-free noodles, and have determined they can taste pretty darn good thanks to a few helpful hints and buying tips.

Tips for cooking gluten-free pasta: 

As opposed to cooking to the al dente stage as is recommended with wheat pasta, I have found that gluten-free varieties typically taste better when cooked until fully tender (albeit not mushy). Leftovers are also better (less dry) when preparing this way. Just keep tasting until you reach the sweet spot!

There are many good brands of gluten-free pasta. Two widely available varieties that I recommend include Ancient Harvest (widely available in grocery stores, their elbows make THE BEST mac and cheese – and gluten-eaters consistently agree!) and Barilla Gluten-Free.

After much research and testing, my very top GF pick happens to be an Italian brand by the name of Le Veneziane. They say Italians make the best pasta, and perhaps this applies to gluten-free varieties, too. I’ve only found this brand online, but if you or someone you cook for requires a GF option, you may enjoy trying it.

From my experience, the key ingredient to good gluten-free pasta that mimics the gold standard made with wheat flour is corn flour. This is the main ingredient in Le Veneziane’s pasta. The Ancient Harvest brand also includes quinoa, and the Barilla option incorporates rice flour; their primary ingredient, however, is corn flour.

When a recommended gluten-free pasta is prepared as mentioned, the taste will be very similar  to the traditional noodle. Do note that one difference you may notice is that gluten-free noodles, especially long varieties like spaghetti, tend to break more easily their wheat flour counterparts, especially when saved for leftovers. But not to worry, leftover GF spaghetti is still a treat!

What kind of pasta, gluten-free or otherwise, do you prefer?

Having heard a lot lately about protein-rich Banza chickpea pasta, I very recently bought a box. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but I’m intrigued based on the positive reviews.

Has anyone else tried it? If so, what did you think? For the record, my family has enjoyed black bean spaghetti many times. It’s different than typical pasta but delicious in Asian and Thai-inspired recipes, like this one.

Please feel free to comment as to your go-to pasta, whatever the shape, size or main ingredient. And as always, if you make this recipe, I’d love to read your feedback!

Veggie-Loaded Pasta with Sausage - an array of colorful vegetables meld easily into the comfort and flavor of a satisfying pasta dish.

Veggie-Loaded Pasta with Sausage
Yield: 4-6 servings
When you add the kale, it will seem like too much, but the hearty greens cook down a lot. Sometimes I add a ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the vegetables while sautéing. You may also experiment with a few pinches of dried herbs like oregano, Italian seasoning or a grating of fresh nutmeg. In season, fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, parsley and chives are a welcome addition.
  • 12 ounces dried pasta (I like a short tubular pasta like rotini; use GF if needed)
  • 12 ounces Andouille or sweet Italian chicken or turkey sausage, sliced diagonally ¼” thick
  • 1½ teaspoons olive oil (plus an extra drizzle as needed)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • ½ a yellow onion, sliced root to tip
  • 1 large bunch (~12 ounces) kale, tough stems stripped and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water as per package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12- to 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the sausage slices until lightly browned, 7-8 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet (add an extra drizzle of oil if the pan is dry), and cook, stirring occasionally and sprinkling with a little salt and pepper, until the onion begins to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the kale (in batches if necessary) and another sprinkle of salt and pepper, and stir until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Stir and simmer a minute or two, to reduce and concentrate just a bit. (You don’t want it to cook off.)
  4. When cooked, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sausage, vegetable mixture, cheese and additional salt and pepper to taste. (I usually add about 1 teaspoon total salt and ¼–½ teaspoon pepper to this dish.) Toss to combine and serve.

*I opt for Lacinato or Dinosaur kale when available, as it’s less fibrous than curly kale. Its stems are also more tender and can be quite tasty! (Don’t hesitate to make this recipe with curly kale, however; it’s still quite good.) If you’d like to make use of the stems, dice them and sauté with the onions and peppers so they become tender. They taste just like the leaves and provide a hint of welcome crispness.

Helpful hint: For added ease at dinnertime, chop/slice the all the vegetables and the sausage in advance and store in produce bags or containers of choice.

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  1. Susan Ericson

    We are a family of three adults, two of which need to be gluten free. We are trying to eat more veggies so I had the feeling this recipe would be well received. As it turned out, it was just my husband and I the night I made this. I used a cajun flavored sausage and some baby kale that I needed to use up. We both had two helpings and my husband commented on how well all the flavors work together. This is quick to prepare and I will be making it again. I like the Simply Balanced gluten free pasta available at Target as well as Barilla. I have had success with hot pasta dishes. My attempts at pasta salad are ok, but I find the gluten free pasta dry when served cold. If anyone has a solution for this, I would love to know what would help.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Susan, I’m so happy you and your husband went back for seconds and will make this recipe again. Thanks for letting me know! As for your question about which gluten-free pasta works best for salads, having found that GF pastas can be dry when served cold, my best solution centers on the cooking time. I find that cooking gluten-free pasta just a little longer than usual adds more moisture to the noodles, making up for what seems to be lost as the pasta chills. And if other readers have tips of their own, I’d love to read them, too!