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Spaghetti with Kale & Walnut Pesto

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Spaghetti with Kale & Walnut Pesto

From my cookbook, this winter-friendly twist on pesto pasta is one of my go-to weeknight dinner recipes. I can get it on the table in 25 minutes max, and it’s a great way to sneak in some healthy greens (green-phobic kids: you know who you are!). Note that you’ll need some of the cooking water from the pasta for the sauce, so be sure to reserve some before you drain the pasta. It’s easy to forget when you’re multitasking, so I always place a liquid measuring cup right next to the colander as a visual reminder. Also, the kale and walnut pesto freezes beautifully so do yourself a favor and make a double batch.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut PestoBegin by toasting the walnuts in a 350°F-oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

how to make saladBring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut PestoMeanwhile, make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the kale and basil.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Process until finely chopped.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Add the remaining ingredients.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Pulse until smooth and set aside.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Add the spaghetti back to the pot and toss with the pesto and ½ cup of the cooking water. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the water.

How to Make Spaghetti with Kale and Walnut Pesto

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then serve topped with the grated Pecorino Romano and chopped walnuts.

 

 

Spaghetti with Kale & Walnut Pesto

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Spaghetti with Kale & Walnut Pesto

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 cups packed, torn kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted if desired (see note)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

For Serving

  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the kale and basil; process until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Add the spaghetti back to the pot and toss with the pesto and ½ cup of the cooking water. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the water. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then serve topped with the grated Pecorino Romano and chopped walnuts.
  4. Note: Toasting the walnuts isn't essential, but it brings out their flavor and makes them crunchier. To toast them, preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake, checking frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool.
  5. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for about a week or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Store in a tightly sealed jar or airtight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (the oil seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an unappetizing brown color).

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 888
  • Fat: 47 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 90 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Sodium: 405 mg
  • Cholesterol: 29 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • This was SO good! I’m trying to eat more vegetables, but don’t like a lot of vegetables, so this recipe was a happy find. I used baby kale, and subbed Parmesan instead of Romano since that’s what I had.

    • — Hope on January 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was fabulous! I did substitute fresh spinach for the kale since I’m not a huge fan of kale and it was wonderful. Very hardy and perfect for a cold winter night! Thanks Jenn. Your recipes are fantastic!

    • — Lisa on January 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try this Had a lovely lunch of pasta with kale pesto last week in Beaufort SC Chef served pesto with flat pasta, diced beets, haricots vert, shredded Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, and pecans. Now I can replicate it. Thanks

    • — Judy M on January 20, 2019
    • Reply
  • I’ve just made a batch of this & eaten it as suggested…oh boy, it’s divine…I’m not a huge pesto fan, but the kale softens the strong basil taste somewhat. It’s a meal in itself, nutritious, vibrant green and as all recipes I use from your site Jenn, a keeper….love, love, love your recipes…they never fail me! Thank you! Lynda

    • — Lynda on January 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight with both gluten free and regular spaghetti. I also added some jumbo lump crabmeat before serving. INCREDIBLE!!! Your recipes never disappoint! Thank goodness I have leftovers to eat tomorrow. Also I had recreated the 1905 salad from my favorite Columbia Restaurant in St Armand’s Circle and served your wonderful sangria which is spot on! Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Abbie on January 18, 2019
    • Reply
    • We love Columbia, too, Abbie! Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 19, 2019
      • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was just lovely! Squeezed a touch of lemon over it and was so hearty and flavorful.

    This would be nice with roasted vegetables (butternut squash?) and maybe a smaller noodle, like a penne.

    Love your book, Jenn!

    • — Jake on January 17, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn:
    This looks terrific and I’m anxious to try it! Wondering if I can substitute fresh spinach for the kale?

    Lisa

    • — Lisa M Brucia on January 17, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Lisa. I think that will work; just omit the sugar as you won’t need it to balance the bitterness of the kale.

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2019
      • Reply

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