Kale and Almond Pesto Pasta Recipe

How to make pasta tossed with homemade kale and almond pesto. Jump to the Kale and Almond Pesto Pasta Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

Pasta is a common dinner in our house, so we’re always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy it. We are big fans of pesto, but don’t always have fresh basil on hand. We do usually have kale or spinach in the fridge though. So kale pesto it is!

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How to Make Kale and Almond Pesto Pasta

One of the best things about pesto is that you can adjust based on what you love or what you have lying around in your pantry. This kale pesto is no different.

How to Make Pesto with Kale and Almonds

In most basil pesto recipes, pine nuts are used. Instead of pine nuts, we love using almonds with the kale. One thing to remember when using nuts, toast them first. Toasting nuts adds so much flavor — it brings the nuts back to life. If you don’t have almonds on hand, walnuts, pecans or even peanuts would be great.

Whenever we cook with kale, we like to give it a good wash. In this case, we also remove any thick stems or ribs as well. Then we add the kale is to boiling water to cook for about 10 minutes.

Adding to a processor

Once cooked, we drain and squeeze excess water from the kale and add to a food processor along with the toasted almonds, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. After adding oil and pulsing the pesto is the perfect consistency to toss with hot pasta. Although, this pesto would be amazing tossed with cooked vegetables or spread onto toast and served as an appetizer.

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Pasta with kale, almonds and cheeseRecipe updated, originally posted January 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Kale and Almond Pesto Pasta Recipe

  • PREP
  • COOK

In traditional basil pesto, you’ll usually see pine nuts used. Instead of pine nuts, we love using almonds with the kale. If you don’t have almonds on hand, walnuts, pecans or even peanuts would be great.

Makes approximately 4 to 6 servings

You Will Need

1 large bunch of kale, rinsed with stems and ribs removed

1/2 cup blanched almonds

2 cloves garlic, roughly minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

1 pound pasta, any shape

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


  • Make Pesto
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale and cook 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.

    Meanwhile, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, until fragrant, browned, and not burned.

    Add the kale, almonds, garlic, and the red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times so everything is chopped small. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Once all the olive oil has been added, check the consistency of the pesto — we like it to have some texture. If you prefer it smoother, pulse a few more times.

    Transfer pesto to a bowl then stir in cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store for later.

    • To Finish
    • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is tender but not mushy. Toss with the pesto, thinning with a little of the hot cooking water as necessary. Serve immediately with more cheese on top.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Spinach is a great substitute for the kale. If you use spinach, you should not need to cook it in advance.
  • How to Store Pesto in the Refrigerator: Add a thin layer of extra olive oil to the top (to prevent any air from getting to it), cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
  • How to Freeze Pesto: If freezing, leave out the cheese. Fill ice cube trays with pesto, freeze until hard. Then store frozen cubes in freezer-safe plastic bags. Freeze up to 1 month.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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21 comments… Leave a Comment
  • diana February 29, 2012, 9:41 am

    Have been seeing tons of kale at the farmer’s markets, and not sure what to do with it. Great idea, and looks tasty.

  • Nadia February 25, 2012, 12:48 am

    Just had this for dinner… loved it. My husband (who has not embraced the idea of Kale) practically licked his plate clean, and my 3-year asked for seconds. I’m sold. In my version – I did 3/4 Kale, 1/4 spinach and added some basil. As always thank you for the inspiration!

  • Samann February 9, 2012, 4:39 pm

    This looks soo good and easy to make! Pesto is my favorite, this looks delicious!

  • Jenni MacArthur February 9, 2012, 11:21 am

    Oh wow!! I LOVE new pesto ideas! This looks amazing!

  • Lindsey January 19, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Made but with uncooked baby spinach! Delicious!

  • gabriella January 19, 2012, 10:08 am

    we just had this for dinner yesterday. i thought for the first time i saw it that it will taste delicious. and it did!! it’s easy to make, healthy but very fulfilling. instead of boiling the kale – i forgot to check your recipe before i made it – i sauteed it in oil and garlic. thanks for sharing!

  • Aysel January 15, 2012, 2:23 am

    I have some kale and didn’t know what to do with it (aside from green smoothie), so I’ll make this for dinner tomorrow! Also, do you think walnuts would work instead of almonds? Thank you!

    • Joanne January 15, 2012, 9:42 am

      Aysel – Walnuts would definitely work!

  • tafino January 13, 2012, 5:04 pm

    Love pasta, and more than that, love pesto. 🙂 Great recipe!!

  • Sarah January 12, 2012, 9:29 am

    I’ve never thought of making pesto from kale. Inspired!

  • Bev Weidner January 11, 2012, 6:27 pm



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