Kale Pesto Pasta with a Cheesy Walnut Topping will be your new favourite weeknight dinner! Kale, basil, nutritional yeast, walnuts, olive oil, and more make this vegan pesto sauce a dream. Even the pickiest eaters will love this pasta dinner.
To say we love pasta is truly an understatement – this Kale Pesto Pasta is one of the reasons why. It’s packed with healthy, wholesome ingredients and doesn’t sacrifice on flavour! The creamy vegan pesto sauce is made with 9 flavourful, fresh ingredients. Paired with a crunchy cheesy walnut pasta topper, this dinner is about to be your new favourite!
Serve our Kale Pesto Pasta with some garlic bread and a glass of wine for a delicious evening in.
What is pesto?
Pesto is one of the most popular pasta sauces. Made with basil, extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Traditionally made in mortar and pestle but it can also be made in a blender or food processor.
Our Kale Pesto Pasta is inspired by this traditional dish but is by no means authentic. Our pesto contains kale in place of some of the basil, nutritional yeast in place of dairy cheese, and walnuts in place of pine nuts!
Top tips for making Kale Pesto Pasta:
- Pulse walnut topper until chunky. For the perfect pasta topping you need a combination of flavour and texture. We’ve got the flavour covered! The texture should be a fine chunky consistency.
- Pesto should be smooth with some chunks. We like to have some texture in our pesto! When processing be sure to not process too much to make it smooth.
- Salt your pasta water like the ocean. Don’t forget that you need to flavour your pasta from the inside out. The only way to do this is to salt the water more than you think so it seasons as it cooks. You know you’ve salted enough when the pasta water tastes like the ocean.
- Cook pasta until al dente. For perfectly cooked pasta it should just have a little bite to it. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package for accurate cooking times.
- Pasta water is the key ingredient. To make your pesto sauce smooth and add an extra bit of flavour use some of the pasta water when cooking the sauce. This also helps the sauce coat the pasta!
How to make Kale Pesto Pasta:
Kale Pesto Pasta
- 12 ounces penne pasta
Cheesy Walnut Topper:
- 60 g (½ cup) walnuts
- 8 g (2 tbsp) nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp crispy onions
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- pinch salt & pepper
- 90 g (2 cups) kale, roughly chopped (if you can get dino kale, it's preferred)
- 40 g (1 cup) fresh basil
- 32 g (½ cup) nutritional yeast, (or vegan shredded parm)
- 120 mL (½ cup) olive oil
- 40 g (⅓ cup) walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice from 1 lemon
- salt, to taste
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- In a food processor combine cheesy walnut topper ingredients and pulse until roughly chopped. Pieces should be small enough to sprinkle, but still big enough that you get a nice crunch on top of your pasta. Remove from the food process to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same food processor add all the ingredients for your kale pesto. Pulse until you get a chunky smooth texture. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a bowl and cook pasta according to instructions on the package until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.
- To a non-stick pan over medium heat add pesto and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add in cooked pasta and thin pesto sauce with reserved pasta water until you get your desired consistency.
- Serve with a sprinkling of your crunchy walnut topper.