Kale Pesto Pasta

Mix pesto with pasta water to create sauce

Kale has a bit of a bitter flavor, but the garlic masks its bitterness to create a mild pesto that is tasty on the palate. Kale can also be quite dry, making it a bit unpalatable to eat raw. But if you quickly blanch the leaves, it takes away its bitter taste, and softens the leaves perfectly!

Kale Pesto Pasta
4.0 from 1 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
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Serves: 4
Kale has a bit of a bitter flavor, but the garlic masks its bitterness to create a mild pesto that is tasty on the palate.
  • 1 bunch kale
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted (or pecans or walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 4-6 roasted* cloves)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Zest from 1 lemon, and juice to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cook your favorite GF pasta until al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Drain, rinse, and return to pot.
  2. Remove center stem from kale, and coarsely chop. Add half of kale to food processor and pulse until reduced. Or, for a milder and more tender tasting pesto, blanch the chopped kale in a pot of boiling water: add leaves to the boiling water, stir the leaves around, making sure they are submerged, and allow to blanch for no more than 20 seconds. Remove and rinse in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well. Set aside to cool, then add to food processor.
  3. Once kale is finely chopped in the food processor, add nuts, garlic, cheese, and lemon zest, pulsing until finely chopped. With machine running, slowly pour in oil until you get the consistency you want.
  4. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice if desired.
  5. Add pesto (as much as you like - freeze the rest to use later) to pot, and toss with pasta. Add ⅓ cup of reserved pasta water and stir until combined and a sauce is created. Add more water if desired until you reach the desired consistency.
To bake garlic: Peel away the excess outer layers of skin, leaving just the cloves skin intact. Slice off the top ¼-1/2" to expose the cloves. Place in a garlic baker, or on a square of foil. Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil, then wrap garlic up in the foil to enclose.Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until cloves are soft when pressed. Break the skins a bit more and pull out cloves with fork, or squeeze them all out together.




  1. I tried this with rice noodles (wide) but they ate it before I could get pictures. I added white pepper shrimp and pineapple bits. Awesome. Thanks.

  2. Those extras sound delicious! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, its become of my my top 10 favorites. I find myself making this one over and over again (I make extra pesto and freeze it into individual portions. Then I can defrost it for a quick meal).

  3. I haven’t, but that would taste great! Great idea, thanks 🙂 The only thing different I might do is to loosen the pesto up with a bit more oil or water, since the ‘noodles’ are quite delicate.

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