Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto
Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto

These Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto are a quick and easy meatless dinner! Make your pesto with cashews for extra creaminess. Blanching the kale also helps keep the pesto green.

Kale, oh kale. The kale craze hasn’t waned, and for one I’m glad about it. If the general public can embrace kale, who knows what culinary frontiers we may collectively push in the future?

Once basil fades like a summer memory, kale takes the spotlight to take center stage. After all, pesto just means sauce — it doesn’t necessarily have to be basil.

Elise already has a great kale pesto recipe on this site, so I decided to come up with a slightly different twist to add to your repertoire.

In this version, I use lacinato kale (also called dino or Tuscan kale) and blanch it to tame its bitterness and bring out the sweetness that lingers beneath the surface. Blanching also keeps the kale its light green color.

For added creaminess, I used cashews instead of traditional pine nuts or almonds. They are sweet and buttery and add richness to the pesto. Vegans could skip the cheese and still end up with a delicious pesto to toss with pasta. If you have leftover pesto, toss it with potatoes, stuff an omelet, or spread it on a sandwich.

Pesto doesn’t have to be a distant summer memory – liven it up with kale, a green that really lasts!

Wholemeal pasta with kale pesto

preparation time
15 minutes

cooking time
15 minutes

total time
30 minutes

up to 6 servings


  • For the pesto:
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (about 12 ounces), stems removed and leaves torn into large chunks

  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Water as needed to thin the pesto

  • For the noodles:
  • 1 pound whole-wheat linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini.

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice or to taste

  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces

special equipment

  • food processor


  1. Blanch kale:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.

    Add the kale to the boiling water and stir for 15 seconds or until wilted and a deep green. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl of ice water. (Alternatively, pour into a sieve and hold under cold water.) Reserve the cooking water in the saucepan.

    Squeeze the kale with your hands to remove excess water.

  2. Make the pesto:

    In a food processor, pulse the cashews and garlic a few times until finely chopped. Add the kale and parmesan and pulse until finely chopped as well. If necessary, scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

    With the engine running, pour in the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper. If necessary, add water 1 tablespoon at a time to bring the pesto to the desired thickness. Taste the pesto, adding additional salt and pepper if needed.

  3. Cook pasta:

    Bring the pot of water used to blanch the kale back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7 to 10 minutes. (Check the packaging for the recommended cooking time.)

    Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain noodles in a colander.

  4. Throw Noodles:

    Return the pasta to the empty saucepan and toss with the lemon juice. Add 1 cup or more pesto to taste and toss again. If the pesto seems dry, add some of the pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce coats the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella pieces and serve.

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!