Recipe: Penne with Sausage and Collard Greens

Savor the South Sampler

Greens: a Savor the South cookbook, by Thomas HeadEvery Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes–from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Thomas Head’s Greens. Head, a native of Louisiana, lives in Washington, D.C. He is coeditor of The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink. In today’s recipe, Head begins with a southern staple—collard greens—and takes it to another level by preparing it with parmesan, penne, and pork! This dish is a breeze to prepare, and is a splendid substitute for “spaghetti night” during hectic summer months.

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Penne with Sausage and Collard Greens

This simple pasta recipe is one of our regulars for an easy weeknight supper. It’s easy to prepare and can be used as a template for concocting a quick and easy supper out of whatever greens, sausage, and pasta you may have on hand. I’m especially fond of collards with pasta—they have more character than the usual kale.
Servings: 4


  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 lb collard greens washed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil or more as needed
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Dash salt to taste
  • Dash black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, plus more for serving


  • Remove the sausage from the casings and cook it in a large frying pan over medium heat, breaking it up with a spatula, until no pink remains and the sausage begins to brown. Remove the sausage and set aside, leaving behind the fat.
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt generously; add the pasta and cook until it is al dente, about 8–10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the cooking water.
  • Cook the garlic briefly in the sausage fat, about 30 seconds, then add the collards, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat the collards with the fat. (You may need an additional tablespoon or two of olive oil, depending on how much fat the sausage has rendered.) Cover the pan and cook the collards until tender, about 10 minutes, adding half a cup of water, plus more if needed, to steam the collards.
  • Add the sausage and pasta to the collards, mixing thoroughly. Add the reserved pasta water, if needed, to moisten the dish. Cook for about 3 minutes to warm the dish through. Stir in the Parmesan.
  • Serve with additional Parmesan.


From GREENS: a Savor the South® cookbook by Thomas Head. Copyright © 2016 Thomas Head.