Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta with White Beans, Kale, and Crispy Breadcrumbs

The perfect mix of health & comfort food. Think grown-up, savory mac and cheese that sneaks in a whole bag of kale

When I was little, my grandmother used to call me “The Pasta Queen” due to my undying affinity for pasta. The incredible Italian grandmother she was, she’d have homemade sauce with sausages and pasta ready for me every time we landed in Connecticut. My love for pasta hasn’t faded over the years, but my appreciate for balancing it with a bit of health has grown. These days, I always start with some sort of protein pasta (typically Barilla Protein+) as my base so I’m not just eating the pasta equivalent of white bread. Then, I try to balance whatever savory deliciousness (in this case breadcrumbs, Italian sausage, and white wine) with sneaky healthiness (white beans, olive oil rather than butter, baby kale that I know will wilt down and become unnoticeable). This recipe is inspired by an amazing pasta my boyfriend and I had (outside, 6+ feet apart from other patrons) at Pizzaiolo in Oakland, and I’m very happy with how the recreation turned out for you all!


(Serves 4-6)

  • ⅓ cup olive oil + 2 tbs
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • ¼ cup white wine (the drier the better)
  • 1 box Barilla protein plus penne pasta (14.5 oz) 
  • 5 oz baby kale 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
  • 1/8 cup plain breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional- red chili flakes to taste 


  1. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium. Once hot, add rosemary and cook for 2-3 min till crispy. Remove, coarsely chop leaves, and keep on a large plate/ cutting board (you’ll be adding a lot to this plate). 
  2. In a separate pot, start boiling water for your pasta and cook simultaneously. Start now to time it correctly to add in! Slightly undercook your pasta and do NOT drain water once done— you’ll need it!
  3. Add the sausage and cook until browned for ~5 min. Use a wooden spoon to break up. Transfer to a paper towel on the plate once cooked (keep separate from rosemary). 
  4. Rinse and dry white beans. Add to the pot and cook for about 5 min until beans start to break apart. 
  5. If adding breadcrumbs– remove all beans and place on cutting board. Lightly toast breadcrumbs for 5 min or until browning. Remove to plate and add half the beans in the pot. If not adding breadcrumbs, remove half the beans from pot onto plate.
  6. Pour the wine in with the beans in the pot  and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is almost fully evaporated. 
  7. Add greens to beans, then using a slotted spoon, add cooked pasta. Follow with 1 cup of the pasta water (see notes). Cook till the greens are wilted (about 3-4 min), stirring often. Add another 1/4 cup pasta water and then the cheese
  8. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tbs olive oil, the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and rosemary. Plate, and add red chili pepper individually if desired. Enjoy!

What if I want a pasta dish but not this one? Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of options. Try one of theses:

Want more Carmel Kama’aina content? Follow me on Instagram. All my latest recipes, poems, and behind the scenes tricks are published first on Instagram. Sneak a peek below:

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