Baked Ziti with Creamy Kale & Sausage

Perfectly portable for a potluck or a straight-to-table trip from the oven, this creamy kale and sausage pasta dish is hearty, filling and great for leftovers.

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With the weekend coming up, no one wants to think about planning dinner for everyone. It’s the weekend, for goodness sake! Saturday night supper doesn’t have to be complicated. This baked ziti and creamy kale sausage is hearty, warm and perfect for a family dinner, plus leftovers.

Nutrition note: Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale, is a dark leafy green more tender than curly kale. It cooks quickly and requires less massaging, making it easy to cook into dinners.

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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
20 min
65 min


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 lean spicy Italian turkey sausages (about 15 oz), casings removed
  • 2 12-oz bunches Lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • 1 lb whole-wheat ziti, rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp organic unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 4 cups 1% milk
  • 4 oz part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 packed cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in liquid)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste (TRY: Simply Organic Ground Black Pepper)
  • 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated


  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towel. Heat a large skillet on medium-high and mist with cooking spray. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 7 to 9 minutes. With a slotted spatula, transfer sausage to plate and cover with 2 more layers of paper towel, pressing lightly to absorb excess fat; set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. To boiling water, add kale and cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer kale to a colander and set aside to drain. Return saucepan to a boil, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente (undercooked by about 1 minute). Meanwhile, line a large bowl with paper towel and transfer kale to bowl to absorb any remaining liquid. Drain pasta and set aside.
  4. In a separate large saucepan, melt butter on medium-low. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, until fragrant. Gradually whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining 3 cups milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add mozzarella and whisk until melted and mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  5. To milk mixture, add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sausage, pasta and kale and stir to combine. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until cheese melts and sauce bubbles, 15 to 18 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. (MAKE AHEAD: Prepare up to 24 hours ahead, but don’t bake. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. To serve, bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. You can bake this dish at home then reheat, covered, at your host’s place in a 350°F oven just until warmed through.)

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 3/4 cup baked ziti
  • Calories 338
  • Carbohydrate Content 43 g
  • Cholesterol Content 36 mg
  • Fat Content 10 g
  • Fiber Content 5 g
  • Protein Content 19 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Sodium Content 481 mg
  • Sugar Content 6.5 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g