Creamy Roasted Garlic Shells with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Broccoli

Creamy shells never did hurt nobody, right?


Hopefully caterpillars don’t either, becauuuuuse I’m pretty sure I ate about 217 of them.

But let me back up a little bit.

Monday afternoon we made it home from Arkansas, and I felt like absolute hammered earwax. Wiped out past the point of no return, so I let Aaron handle dinner while I pretended to nap on the couch. Our garden is basically hemorrhaging, so he made a huge chicken salad with different greens and broccoli. And it was great! So tasty. So fresh. So gardeny. I ate every last bite. Yadda yadda.

shells1 shells2

Fast forward two nights.

I was making this here creamy pasta delight, and I decided to use some more garden broccoli before it Michael Bolted. So I pick it, I trim it, I rinse it, I scratch my armpit, I take a closer look.


There were like, millions of tiny green caterpillars BLENDING IN to the broccoli. Holding on to each little stem like tricky little chameleon sons of you know whats. I scream, I jump nine feet into the air, I drop the broccoli, I sweat.

Then I think about Aaron’s dinner only two nights ago. Did he rinse the broccoli as well as I did? Did he rinse it at all? Did he inspect it close enough? Did he see any caterpillars?

So I call him:


Him, “I’m kind of in the middle of a meeting right now. Can this wait?”


Him, “Of course I rinsed the broccoli. I didn’t see any caterpillars. I’m sure it was fine.”

shells3 shells4

Me, “NO IT IS NOT. That’s just the thing! They BLEND IN like little jerk face slimy tube wizards trying to gross us out and and scare us! I’m telling you, they’re ALL in the broccoli. I even boiled the broccoli and I STILL SAW FIVE HUNDRED MILLION OF THEM.”

Him, “Bev, calm down. I’m sure it’s fine. Hey, it’s protein!”


Him, “Did you see I found your Laverne & Shirley VHS tape?”

Me, “I did. That was nice of you. Thanks.”


Inspect your broccoli, kids. And don’t trust the system.

Now that I’ve fully sicked you out ON A FOOD BLOG, let me just tell you how yummers* this is.

We have whole wheat pasta shells, we have a cream sauce.

We have roasted garlic, we have a red pepper toss.

We have garden broccoli, we have Italian sausage.

We have my fragile sanity vs. sumo wrestling caterpillarage.


You can leave the caterpillars out of yours though, if you want.


Let’s eat.

Creamy Roasted Garlic Shells with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Broccoli:

What it took for 2 pretty big portions. Double to comfortably feed 4:

* 2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
* 2 Italian sausage links, casings removed
* 1-2 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* 2 cups rinsed broccoli florets
* 8 garlic cloves, in their skins
* 2 Tbs. butter
* 2 Tbs. flour
* 1 cup milk (I used reduced fat)
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to broil. Place the garlic cloves on a small baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, tossing the garlic so it browns evenly on all sides. Set aside to cool until we’re ready to make the sauce.

Bring a large sauté pan to a medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove from the skillet.

To the pan, add a little oil. Then toss in the diced red bell pepper.

Also, in the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When it starts to slightly boil, add the broccoli and boil for about 30 seconds. Then transfer the broc to the sauté pan with the peppers to finish cooking.

Now you can add the pasta to that boiling water. Boil until it’s al dente, then drain.

Add the cooked sausage and pasta to the pan with the veggies, and give it a good toss.

Keep it on a low heat while you make your sauce.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once the foaming has subsided, add the flour and whisk until it’s combined and not floury. Then slowly pour the milk in, whisking as you go, creating a nice creamy sauce. Season well with salt and pepper.

Now transfer the sauce to a small food processor and squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into it. Process until smooth and dreamy.

Pour the sauce over the pasta dish and toss to combine. Taste it again. Need a little more salt? Suuuuure.

Serve and devour.


* just flick me already.

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32 Responses to Creamy Roasted Garlic Shells with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Broccoli

  1. claire @ the realistic nutritionist May 31, 2013 at 8:06 am #
    caterpillars make me itchy. Luckily this pasta does not! (That came out weird...let me rephrase)
  2. Tieghan May 31, 2013 at 8:12 am #
    Oh I want this!! Looks so creamy and so good!
  3. Maria May 31, 2013 at 8:26 am #
    My boys will love this one!
  4. Julie @ Table for Two May 31, 2013 at 8:32 am #
    This looks SO GOOD. I love how creamy it is. I think I want to make it this weekend...well, more like I AM!
  5. Patti Morfeld May 31, 2013 at 8:40 am #
    Hey Bev, want to come over to our house for dinner..we have two iguanas who will stare you down for your broccoli!
  6. Brianna May 31, 2013 at 8:40 am #
    I gotta tell ya...that Caterpillar story is a little disturbing. This winter I found a big green worm nestled on one of our kale leaves. It's made me a little paranoid since. I have to check and rinse every kale leaf like 157 times before it gets thrown into the pot. Haha.
  7. dixya| food, pleasure, and health May 31, 2013 at 9:01 am #
    i love the idea of garlicky creamy sauce! whenever I have panic attacks over bugs or an insect my boyfriend tries to tell me its protein and we are good too and it drives me nuts!!!
  8. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie May 31, 2013 at 9:53 am #
    Hahaha oh my gosh that's too funny. But I will be a littler nervous the next time I eat broccoli.
  9. Heather Christo May 31, 2013 at 10:33 am #
    My mom used to tell me "it's just protein" when there were all manner of critters crawling in our garden salads like every night of my childhood. It still makes me want to gag. But the pasta looks great!
  10. Carly @ Snack Therapy May 31, 2013 at 10:44 am #
    I'd risk a few hundred million caterpillars for some creamy pasta shells.
  11. Erin L May 31, 2013 at 10:52 am #
    Recently, I was preparing dinner while my husband was having a meeting with our landscaper in another room. I sliced a zucchini lengthwise & out popped a HUGE (not that big...) green caterpillar! (Lucky for him he must have ducked the knife because he was intact.) I screamed like a banshee & scared the hell out of my husband, the landscaper, & the caterpillar. The caterpillar went to live a merry life outside, but I am off zucchini permanently. Lucky for me I remain on good terms with broccoli!
  12. Cassie May 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm #
    This happened to me with asparagus last week...always rinse the asparagus. Or broccoli in your case. This is fab!
  13. angela @ another bite please May 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm #
    ahhhhh....i would have been calling my hubby too. love how the fresh broccoli just pops in this dish.
  14. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. May 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm #
    There are so many wonderful things about this!!
  15. Angie@Angie's Recipes June 1, 2013 at 2:25 am #
    Looks creamy and full of flavours!
  16. Kris June 1, 2013 at 11:02 am #
    Too Yummy! Making this tonight :)
  17. Ashley June 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm #
    This post cracked me up. Probably because I'm glad someone ELSE had to deal with something like this. I am a bug magnet. Ick!! But this pasta dish looks fabulous!! Hope you haven't been too traumatized ;)
  18. Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste June 2, 2013 at 10:47 am #
    You have outdone yourself, Bev. HOLY CRUD.
  19. Marie @ Little Kitchie June 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm #
    BAHHHH the same thing happened to me with kale the other day and I SCREAMED for like 5 minutes straight. Glad to know I'm not alone. And I want a ginormous bowl of this every day for the rest of ever.
  20. Angie June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm #
    Bev... I just found you last night looking for a beet recipe... you are HILARIOUS! I love your food blog, and I love your video on "about me". I've linked to you in my latest beet post, and I listed you as one of my favorite food blogs! Thanks for the giggles...
  21. Sues June 3, 2013 at 6:50 am #
    I would totally freak out, too. But this pasta looks worth it?? I guess. I mean, they areee protein. But still.
  22. Elizabeth June 3, 2013 at 11:44 am #
    OHMYGAH I would have flipped! I am new to gardening and still pretend bugs don't exist on food. That pasta would have to be my therapist.
  23. Paula - bell'alimento June 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm #
    I'm gonna need a bigger bowl ...
  24. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl June 4, 2013 at 7:39 am #
    I want 50 bowls of this. Stat.
  25. marcie@flavorthemoments June 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm #
    This is my kind of pasta dish. I just wanna dive right into the bowl.
  26. Nutmeg Nanny June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm #
    These creamy shells look incredible! I love this :)
  27. Marissa Kubinski June 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm #
    This pasta dish was delicious! It wasn't heavy and I like that the sauce isn't very fattening. I might use spicy italian sausage next time for a little kick. Warning: lots of dishes!


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