Kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and spring cabbage qualify for this pasta pie. To aerate and lighten the pie, I like to use a shaped pasta such as spirals, bows, or shells. For a vegetarian dish, leave out the sausage meat and transform the pie into the Italian Easter specialty, ‘Torta Pasquale’ by topping it after baking with halved hard boiled eggs.

Serves 6

  • 330g/¾lb shaped pasta
  • 1 large can (800g/28oz) cooked cannellini beans, drained
  • 125g/4½oz/1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Peppery Greens Filling:

  • 675g/1½lb kale or other peppery greens
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 225g/½lb spicy sausage, removed from casings
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 500ml/16fl oz/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten to mix

22x33cm/9x13in baking dish

1. Make the filling: Wash the greens thoroughly, drain them in a colander and discard thick stems. Roll a few leaves loosely together and cut across into thin strips. Shred the rest of the greens in the same way. Heat the oil in a sauté pan or large shallow saucepan and crumble in the sausage meat. Fry it, stirring constantly to break it up, until it is crumbly and brown, 4-6 minutes. Remove it with a draining spoon and set it aside.

2. Add the onions to the pan and fry them, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and allspice and cook 1 minute. Stir in the shredded greens and pour over the chicken stock. Cook the greens, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and just tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the sausage meat, taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave the mixture to cool.

3. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and oil the baking dish. To cook the pasta: Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer it uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still chewy (‘al dente’), 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta. Drain it, rinse with hot water, and leave in the colander.

4. To assemble the pie: Stir the eggs into the cooled filling of greens – it should be very moist. Spread about a third of the filling in the baking dish, top with some cannellini beans and cover with a third of the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add two more layers of greens, beans, pasta, and cheese, ending with a layer of pasta and topping it generously with cheese.

5. Bake the pie in the oven until very hot and browned, 30-40 minutes.

Shortcut: Substitute two 280g/10oz packages frozen chopped spinach for the kale.

Getting Ahead: Easy. Prepare the pie up to 2 days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator, or store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

On the Side: A salad of sliced tomatoes for color and fresh taste.

In the Glass: One of those light Italian reds that disappear so fast such as a Valpolicella or a Bardolino.

From Good Food No Fuss by Anne Willan, 2003
Photo CREDIT: Simon Wheeler