Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta

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The carb train never stops around here and recently this Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta has been on my mind!!

Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)


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! While I love a classic 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 from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta

Author: Gaby Dalkin
4.7 from 7 votes
A delish Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta that's the perfect bridge from winter to spring!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6 people


  • ½ 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)
  • ½ cup pine nuts (optional if you prefer to omit)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb small pasta shells
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 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.


Kale is a bit more work to prep for pesto than basil, but once you try it I guarantee you'll find it worth the effort!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 607kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 490mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4574IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 256mg | Iron: 3mg
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    1. It would freeze!! I would just give it a quick saute with some extra olive oil in a non-stick skillet to re-heat

    2. 5 stars
      So easy and delicious! The lemony flavor is the star of the dish. We will definitely be making this again!

  1. 5 stars
    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!!

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this tonight and added rotisserie chicken and Italian chicken sausage. It was delicious! Thanks Gaby!

4.72 from 7 votes (1 rating without comment)

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