Kale Pesto Pasta

This delicious pesto is reminiscent of the traditional pesto alla genovese despite not having an ounce of basil in it. Instead, it’s packed with lots of healthy cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), which lends it a beautifully rich dark green hue. I can’t think of a better way of eating lots of kale than blitzed up into a tasty pesto and tossed with some pasta!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Pasta, Vegetarian


  • 200 g cavolo nero (Tuscan kale)
  • 350 g dried pasta
  • 50 g raw pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml water
  • 40 g Grana Padano (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice (1 or 2 tbsp), to taste
  • extra Grana Padano (or Parmigiano Reggiano), to serve


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, add a generous amount of salt.
  2. While the water is boiling, remove the ribs and stems from the centre of each kale leaf.
  3. Quickly blanch the kale in the salted water until vibrant green and slightly wilted, 15 to 30 seconds. Then, using tongs, transfer the kale to a large plate or platter and allow to cool slightly. You can then use the same pot of boiling salted water to cook the pasta.
  4. Once slightly cooled, drain the kale and wring out the excess water using your hands (use gloves so as not to burn yourself).
  5. Using a high-powdered blender or food processor, blitz together the pistachios, garlic, olive oil and water until smooth.
  6. Add the Grana Padano and kale and blend until smooth. If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen.
  7. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper (and optionally, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice).
  8. To serve: drain the pasta, reserving a little bit of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the large bowl with the pesto and a splash of pasta water and toss until the sauce nicely coats the pasta. Divide into bowls, serve and enjoy!


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2 months ago

Second time making this, I use canned peanuts instead of pistachios & it was surprisingly delicious especially for a kale recipe, a great way to eat kale if you dislike it you don’t taste it at all. Just nice creamy pasta.

2 months ago
Reply to  DJ

I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it!