The carb train never stops around here and recently this Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta has been on my mind!!
We love pesto here on WGC. Any herby, green, delicious sauce is fair game in my book. We’ll add it on top of protein, use it as the base of pizza, we’ll use it as a salad dressing, we’ll stir it into a hummus dip, and we’ll absolutely add it to pasta. This Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta is insane! Instead of a traditional basil pesto, this garlic loaded kale pesto is the name of the game. It starts with a simple garlic infused oil, and then it’s loaded with kale, a little red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and lemon. Simple and DELISH.
You can add it to pretty much anything, but I’m partial to some pasta along with some ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and a little water to thin it out and bring it together. It’s perfect warm, at room temp or cold. And it absolutely saves well for leftover meals!! Hop to it – you’re gonna be obsessed!
And yes, you can absolutely omit the pine nuts if you prefer! I know some people are allergic and I promise this is just as delicious with or without them! Just there to give the kale pesto a bit of an oomph!
Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 bunches dinosaur kale, stems and center veins removed and washed and rinsed dry
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 lemons, zested and juice (divided)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional if you prefer to omit)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 lb small pasta shells
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and saute for 15-20 seconds until fragrant. Remove from the heat immediately and add the kale, red pepper flakes and the lemon zest from 1 lemon. Stir to combine. Let the kale wilt and set aside. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the kale mixture to a food processor and add the optional pine nuts and pulse to combine for 45 seconds. Once it's semi-smooth, transfer it back to the skillet and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and reserve
- Heat the kale mixture over medium heat to warm through. Add the pasta, parmesan, ricotta and a little bit of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water to thin it out a bit. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, lemon zest, juice and red pepper flakes.
Do you only add lemon juice at the end? And to taste? Looks good! Thanks.
I just made this tonight and added rotisserie chicken and Italian chicken sausage. It was delicious! Thanks Gaby!
This has everything I love!!! It is going to be one of our favorites!!
We loved this! Our 3 YO loves pesto and sometimes eats kale, depending on the preparation, so this was a perfect combo and great way to have her eat kale.
I wasn’t sure when to add in lemon juice so I did 1/2 a lemon in the pesto (with the zest) and 1/2 after combining everything/tasting. Thanks!!
Hi! I have a lot of frozen kale. Would frozen kale work for this recipe or will it be too watery? Thanks!
Just make sure to squeeze out all the liquid before hand and you’re golden
Can this be frozen? It would be great for Molly to get out of the freezer after baby number 2 gets here.
It would freeze!! I would just give it a quick saute with some extra olive oil in a non-stick skillet to re-heat
Can you use spinach instead?
I made this tonight and the garlic was overpowering. Otherwise a nice recipe