With just 6 ingredients, this light and healthy kale and walnut pesto pasta comes together so quickly making it the perfect weeknight dinner suitable for the busiest of nights. Serve it on it’s own or with a salad and some garlic bread for a full family feast.
On a busy weeknight, you know my go do dinner is going to be pasta. It’s one of those things that’s so easy to pull together something super tasty and it’s always going to be a winner.
Pesto is one of my favourite sauces as the flavour that it packs means that the pasta doesn’t need anything else added to be a full meal. My usual go to pesto recipe is this easy vegan basil pesto which is the more traditional flavour profile, however I don’t always have basil available (maybe one day I can be the person who grows an abundance of fresh herbs, but today that’s not me).
But something that often finds its way into my crisper is kale. The bunches of kale from my local supermarket are huge so when I buy it for green smoothies or another recipe, there is always still kale remaining at the end of the week. This is how this recipe was born.
So instead of basil we’re using kale. And let me tell you that I might like this kale version better than the original! It’s light, fresh and vibrant plus makes me feel like there is some form of nutritional benefit because you know, kale.
I love making a batch of this pesto as a way to use up kale that may no longer be at its peak. If you want to make the pesto ahead of time it will keep in the fridge for up to a week. And while I haven’t done it, I’m pretty sure it will freeze well so you can make some and keep it on hand for a ‘I have no idea what to do for dinner’ day.
How to make kale pesto
The process of making this pesto is the same as most others. You’ll need a food processor and a little rubber spatula for scraping down the sides.
Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and start to mix on low before turning up to high to fully breakdown the kale and walnuts. You’ll need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Once the kale has broken down and the oil emulsified into a creamy sauce consistency, it’s time to taste! Adjust your salt and lemon juice as you need to.
Mix your pesto through the cooked pasta using a little reserved pasta water as needed to loosen it up (this is particularly important if you’re using spaghetti like I am here as it’s notorious for getting stuck together) as you want to make sure every single bit of pasta has a delicious coating of the pesto.
Again check your seasoning as I find sometimes it will need a little more salt after being mixed with the pasta, and then serve with an additional lemon squeeze.
You can top it with parmesan cheese if you want, but we are keeping things vegan here and serving as it and to be honest, it really doesn’t need it.
If you’re looking for something light and fresh, but still like the idea of comfort food then this is the recipe to keep in your back pocket. It’s a recipe I keep coming back to and I’m excited for it to make it onto your dinner tables as well.
And if you really want to make it into a full on family meal, I highly recommend putting the dish in the centre of the table with a green salad and some garlic bread and letting everyone help themselves.
This recipe as written will feed 2-3 people depending on how hungry they are but you can quite easily double it as needed.
More easy pasta recipes:
Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta
- 2 cups kale
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 clove garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- 230 grams of dried spaghetti or any pasta
- Lemon extra to serve
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add in the spaghetti or pasta. Cook according to packet instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Place the kale, walnuts, garlic, lemon and salt in a food processor with the olive oil and blend until everything starts to come together. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula and continue to blend until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.
- Add the cooked spaghetti back into the saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to loosen up the pasta. Add in the pesto and toss to combine. Add a little more of the cooking water as needed to help toss the pasta until every strand is covered with the pesto. Taste and adjust salt and lemon again as needed before serving.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.