Kale Pesto Pasta with Homemade Kale Pesto

Fresh rotini pasta tossed in a bright & zesty homemade pesto then topped with grated parmesan & freshly sliced basil. This is the BEST & EASIEST kale pesto pasta recipe!

Freshly made kale pesto pasta topped with shredded parmesan, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves

I always forget how much I love pesto until I make it again. It’s super simple, easy to make and tastes ridiculously good on just about anything! This version of pesto uses a blend of half green kale – half basil to still give it it’s a traditional zesty flavor without having to buy a ton of fresh basil. (That can get wayy too expensive!) Just toss all your ingredients in a food processor, blend them until smooth and enjoy over your favorite noodles! It’s that easy! Plus kale pesto pasta is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or great for meal prepped lunches too!

Ingredients used to make kale pesto pasta

Ingredients For Your Kale Pesto Pasta

  • Pasta: Any type of pasta works for this recipe! (My favorite’s rotini pasta.)
  • Kale: Cut the leaves off the stem before adding them to the food processor.
  • Fresh basil: Buy your basil as fresh as possible for the best results.
  • Pine nuts: Toast them for even more flavor!
  • Parmesan cheese: We’ll usually buy a block of parmesan and grate it ourselves. It’s cheaper and much more flavorful! (Always grate a little extra to sprinkle on top of your pasta too!😉)
  • Garlic: You’ll need 2 garlic cloves for this recipe.
  • Olive oil: The amount can vary here. I’ll usually use between a ¼ cup – ⅓ cup depending on the consistency I want.
  • Lemon juice: You’ll need 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon).
  • Salt & black pepper: Brings out the flavors in your pesto!
A food processor photographed from above filled with a homemade kale pesto sauce

How to Make Kale Pesto Pasta

1. Make your kale pesto. Place your pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust your seasonings as needed.

2. Cook your pasta. Boil your pasta according to the package’s directions. Then drain it and set it aside.

3. Toss & serve! Place your warm pasta in a bowl or sauté pan and add your desired amount of kale pesto. Toss until the pasta is coated to your liking. Serve immediately with shredded parmesan and extra sliced basil on top.

A clear mixing bowl filled with cooked rotini pasta mixed with homemade kale pesto

Serving Suggestions & Additions

There’s so many ways to serve this dish! It’s great served as a side dish with grilled chicken, Italian sausage or any type of meat dish. Or you can add your ingredients right into the mix and make it a main course! Here are a few of our favorite add-ins:

  • Chopped grilled chicken or shrimp
  • Roasted or sautéed tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella balls (They get melty and gooey if you sauté them with the pasta for a few minutes!)
  • Cooked veggies like asparagus or zucchini/yellow squash
  • Extra toasted pine nuts
  • Freshly sliced basil
  • Grated or shredded parmesan cheese

Storing

Place your leftover pesto pasta in an air tight container and keep it stored in the refrigerator. Your pasta should stay good for 4-5 days if stored properly. Alternatively, you can store your pesto in a separate container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months. (This pesto freezes so well! We’ll usually freeze our in little cups and take them out to thaw as needed.)

A serving bowl filled with kale pesto pasta surrounded by a bowl of lemon wedges, fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan

FAQ’s

  • How do I toast my pine nuts? Spread your pine nuts out on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and toast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes (or until they just start turning golden brown).
  • I don’t like pine nuts. Can I use a different type of nut for my pesto? Absolutely! Walnuts, pistachios or almonds are the best replacements. (Just keep in mind that using these nuts will alter the flavor of your pesto so use one you love!)
  • How do I reheat my kale pesto pasta? You can either reheat it in the microwave at 30 second intervals until it reaches your desired temperature or heat it in a sauté pan on the stove. We’ll usually add a squeeze of lemon or extra pesto sauce to keep the noodles moist while heating.
A close up photo of a bowl filled with kale pesto pasta with a wooden serving spoon digging into it

Why you’ll love this kale pesto pasta recipe!

  • A quick & simple meal! Just a handful of ingredients & your food processor does all the work! Dinner can be on the table in less than 10 minutes!
  • Doubles as a main dish or side! Serve it alongside your favorite grilled meats/chicken or load it up with lots of lean protein and veggies!
  • Easy to tailor! Like a thinner pesto? Add more oil! Want more lemon flavor? Add another squeeze of lemon or lemon zest to the mix! There’s so many ways to make this pesto pasta dish your own!

More pasta recipes you might like:

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Kale Pesto Pasta with Homemade Kale Pesto

Fresh rotini pasta tossed in a bright & zesty homemade pesto then topped with grated parmesan & freshly sliced basil. This is the BEST & EASIEST kale pesto pasta recipe!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time7 mins
Total Time17 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: homemade kale pesto, kale pesto, pasta
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. your favorite pasta
  • ½ cup kale, leaves cut off the stem & chopped (packed)
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped (packed)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (see notes for toasting directions)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup olive oil (depending on the consistency you want)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Optional garnishes: grated parmesan cheese, sliced basil, extra toasted pine nuts, etc.

Instructions

  • Add your chopped kale, basil, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a sprinkle of black pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust your seasonings as needed.
  • Next boil your pasta according to the package's directions then drain it and discard the water.
  • Place your warm pasta in a bowl or sauté pan and add your desired amount of kale pesto. Then toss until the pasta is coated to your liking.
  • Serve immediately with shredded parmesan and extra sliced basil on top.

Notes

*This pesto recipe makes enough to thinly coat your pasta. I’d suggest doubling the recipe if you like a lot of pesto on your noodles.
To toast your pine nuts: Spread your pine nuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until they just start turning golden brown,

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