This 20-minute creamy kale pesto pasta is a fall and winter dinner favorite! Make it with our tasty kale pesto for a wholesome and quick meal.

Perfect for when you’re short on time, you can make the kale pesto pasta sauce in a few minutes. And if you want to add more veggies, try tossing in some roasted pumpkin. It’s delicious!

Kale pasta with pumpkin and fork

Check out our Easy Pasta Recipes

Pasta with kale pesto sauce is an excellent winter recipe when you feel like having something homemade but don’t have much time to cook.

Kale pesto is quick and easy to make, just like basil pesto, with a few ingredients in a food processor.

Make this pasta for lunch, dinner, as a potluck meal, or lunchbox idea. It’s excellent for mealprepping as you can make the pesto ahead and mix it with the pasta on the day of eating.

The pesto keeps well for up to a whole week in the fridge and several months in the freezer, so it’s a fantastic make-ahead recipe for last-minute meals.

Ps. you can make kale pesto pasta with dairy or without. To make it dairy-free, substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan. Quantities are in the recipe card below.

Kale pasta and lemons

Ingredients

Ingredients for Kale pasta

Pasta

We use farfalle or bow ties. You can use any pasta for kale pesto pasta. From spaghetti and linguine, to rotini, fusilli, and rigatoni.

For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta; the pesto is naturally gluten-free.

Kale

You can use curly kale or dinosaur kale, also called Tuscan kale or lacinato kale.

You can use pre-chopped kale leaves if you discard the woodier stems.

Garlic

Fresh garlic is a must in pesto. Try to avoid garlic powder here.

Almonds

You can use almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, or macadamia nuts for the nutty component. Here we use almonds.

Lemon

We add freshly squeezed lemon juice for a touch of freshness. The pesto is delicious without lemon, so don’t worry too much if you don’t have one handy.

Parmesan Cheese or Nutritional Yeast

You can either use grated parmesan cheese or make the recipe vegan and substitute nutritional yeast for the parmesan. We tried and loved both versions.

Cold Water

To get the blender going and to keep things cool. We also add water so that we can reduce the amount of oil. If you are a pesto purist, substitute the water with more oil.

Olive oil

Pick a fruity good quality extra virgin olive oil. You’ll taste the oil in this recipe, so pick a good one.

Salt

We recommend sea salt or kosher salt.

homemade kale pesto in a bowl

Instructions

Make kale pesto

Rinse the kale, pat it dry, chop it up, and discard woodier stems.

To a food processor, add chopped kale, garlic, almonds, parmesan or nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, and salt.

Pulse until finely chopped; scrape down sides if necessary.

kale pesto ingredients to blend

Add the oil and pulse a few more times until you reach your desired consistency and texture. Taste and adjust for salt.

Don’t blend continuously; the oil might turn bitter if you do so.

kale pesto just blended

Toss with pasta

Boil the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water. First, boil water, then add salt, then add pasta.

When the pasta is ready, reserve two cups of pasta water and drain the pasta.

Tip: You’ll need about 3 quarts (12 cups or 3 Liters) of water and 1 ½ tablespoons (21 grams) of salt for 12 ounces (340 grams) of pasta. 

Bow tie pasta

Add the pasta to a large mixing bowl, pour in about half the kale pesto, add half a cup of reserved pasta water and toss with a spoon until thoroughly combined.

Add more pasta water or more pesto if desired. Store leftover pesto in the fridge.

mix pesto with pasta

Serve as is, with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated parmesan, or grated lemon zest.

Kale pasta in white bowl

Variations

Kale pasta with winter squash

Kale pasta with roasted pumpkin

If you have more time, try kale pasta with your favorite roasted orange vegetable.

We love it with roasted pumpkin, roasted butternut squash, roasted kabocha squash, or roasted sweet potatoes.

Start baking the veggies before you even start making the pesto.

Chop the pumpkin into dice, toss it with oil, salt, and black pepper, and bake in a preheated oven at 430°F or 220°C for 20 – 30 minutes. Add to the kale pesto pasta for a colorful, delicious, and nutritious meal.

Serving Suggestions

Serve as a main meal with a side salad:

  • Chickpea salad: an easy 15-minute salad with creamy mustard dressing
  • Fennel salad with orange, olives, and pomegranate seeds
  • Pear salad with orange wedges, ricotta cheese, and dried cranberries
  • Carrot salad with parsley and a delicious cumin dressing

Garnish the pasta with one of these tasty toppings:

Tips

How to cook pasta to perfection?

You’ll need about 3 quarts (12 cups or 3 Liters) of water and 1 ½ tablespoon (21 grams) of salt for 12 ounces (340 grams) of pasta. 

Storage

Refrigerator: store kale pesto pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Ideally, store one cup of pasta cooking water as well.

Reheat: the pasta will get dry in the fridge. Add it to a large skillet with 1/4 cup of reserve pasta water (or tap water) and a tablespoon of olive oil, and toss on medium heat for 5 minutes or until warm.

You can also reheat it in the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water drizzled on top.

For kale pesto storage instructions, check out our kale pesto recipe page.

More easy pasta recipes

If you love quick and easy pasta recipes, here are some more for you:

For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.

Kale pasta in a bowl

Kale Pesto Pasta

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 2 votes
This creamy kale pesto pasta is a fall and winter dinner favorite you can make with little effort in about 20 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main, pasta
Cuisine: American Italian

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces pasta any, we use farfalle.
  • 3 packed cups (3.7 oz) chopped kale curly or dinosaur kale, woodier stems removed.
  • cup almonds sub walnuts or pine nuts.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated, sub 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flake
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

MAKE PESTO

  • Rinse kale, pat it dry, chop it up, and discard woodier stems.
    To a food processor, add chopped kalegarlicalmondsolive oilparmesanwaterlemon juice, and salt.
    Pulse until finely chopped; scrape down sides if necessary.
    kale pesto ingredients to blend
  • Add oil and pulse a few more times until you reach your desired consistency and texture. Taste and adjust for salt.
    Don't blend continuously; the oil might turn bitter if you do so.
    kale pesto just blended

TOSS WITH PASTA

  • Boil the pasta al dente in a large pot of salted water.
    When the pasta is ready, reserve two cups of pasta water and drain the pasta.
    Bow tie pasta
  • Add pasta to a large mixing bowl, pour in about ¾ of the kale pesto.
    Add half a cup of reserved pasta water and toss with until thoroughly combined.
    Add more pasta water or more pesto if desired. Store leftover pesto in the fridge.
    mix pesto with pasta
  • Serve as is, with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated parmesan, or grated lemon zest.
    Kale pasta in white bowl

Video

Easy Kale Pesto Pasta in 20 minutes

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of kale pesto pasta out of 4.
Tip: You’ll need about 3 quarts (12 cups or 3 Liters) of water and 1 ½ tablespoons (21 grams) of salt for 12 ounces (340 grams) of pasta. 

Nutrition

Calories: 446kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Potassium: 251mg, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 122IU, Vitamin B6: 0.1mg, Vitamin C: 2mg, Vitamin E: 4mg, Vitamin K: 8µg, Calcium: 115mg, Folate: 19µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 66mg, Zinc: 2mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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