My Kale Pasta recipe is a tasty vegetarian dinner idea that is so delicious! This simple recipe lets just a couple of good ingredients shine like kale, pasta, lemon, parmesan cheese, and greek yogurt. There is a vegan option included in the recipe too. You are going to love this tried and true family favorite.
Kale Pasta Recipe
My Kale Pasta recipe is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I created this during an unexpected ice storm a few years ago when my fridge was nearly bare and I couldn't make it to the store. I somehow ended up with kale, pasta, lemon, and greek yogurt left over in the fridge and pantry and came up with this. Over time I've tweaked it and it's now on regular rotation in the Wunder household. It's one of my personal favorite recipes that I always look forward to eating. The hearty pasta that you toss with lemon garlic kale is divine.
This combination of kale and pasta together is so dreamy! It's the best health and comfort food rolled up in a bowl of carb-loving goodness.
If you are looking for a good way to get the family to eat kale, you've got to get on board and try this. This is part of our weekly dinner rotation and I'm sure it's part of your too.
Why You'll Love my Kale Pasta Recipe...
- The highlights of this Kale Pasta recipe are pantry staples like kale, high-quality pasta, parsley, lemon, and parmesan. It's easy to make this with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
- You can get this on the table in less than 20 minutes.
- To make this bowl nice and creamy, I big scoop of Greek yogurt into it at the end. The probiotic boost makes this creamy and delish. You'll love the Creamy Kale Pasta!
- The lemony garlic-filled kale tastes tender and addictive. I challenge even kale haters to give it a try.
- The pasta will give you all the cozy vibes you crave for a good vegetarian meal.
Yes, kale and pasta are a match made in foodie heaven. I love this dinner so much because it's kind of healthy... kind of comfort food. The pasta is so nice and cozy but the huge heaps of kale still provide lots of vitamins.
Health Benefits of Kale
The humble kale just happens to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! It's loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and Vitamin K and may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. It's a total superfood making this recipe a must-try. It's also a great source of potassium.
It has an earthy greens taste but when it's sauteed in lemon and garlic it honestly tastes kind of dreamy!
How to Prepare Kale
Now that we all love kale, here's how to prepare it. If you bought the full stems fold them in half and pull off the green leafy part from the woody stem. Then chop the kale into two-inch wide strips. Massage the kale for a minute to make it more tender and less bitter.
If you buy the bag of already chopped kale you'll probably still want to pull it out of the bag, remove any of the harder stems, and massage it.
You'll use what looks like a ton of kale for this recipe BUT once you cook it you'll see that it wilts down a lot like spinach.
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make this Kale Pasta Recipe, keep reading for the full printable recipe.
- Pasta: You can use any pasta to make this recipe. I used fusilli or corkscrew pasta because I like the way it holds the olive oil and butter-based sauce. Penne is a great choice too. I like to look for pasta with added health benefits like this protein pasta. You can also use gluten-free, if that's your diet.
- Garlic: You can use pre-minced garlic for this recipe or mince your own from garlic cloves.
- Olive Oil & Butter: I like to use a combination of olive oil and butter to make my kale pasta recipe because I think it brings the most flavor to this simple dish. You can use just butter or olive oil if you prefer or use vegan butter to make this dairy-free.
- Kale: I use big curly kale for this recipe! I love the hearty texture of it and how it holds up to the garlic and lemon sautee. The soften the kale and reduce the bitterness you can massage it a bit before cooking it.
- Lemon: A big bright lemon adds so much flavor to this dish. Don't skip it!
- Greek Yogurt: I stir in a nice scoop of plain greek yogurt at the end to make this pasta dish creamy. You can leave it out.
- Parmesan: A nice dose of parmesan at the end adds a bit of nutty, cheesy flavor.
- Pasta Water: Pasta water is water from the pot after the pasta has been cooked. It naturally has starches in it and a scoop of the water provides the magic to bind this recipe together.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Red pepper flakes don't make this dish spicy but just bring out the flavors.
Keep reading for the printable recipe for Kale Pasta, this is an overview.
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve some of the pasta water. The juices that the pasta is cooked in have starch in it that will help the sauce form. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking saute your garlic in the butter and olive oil over low heat in a large skillet. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds or until it is fragrant. Don't let it burn.
- Add the kale to the pot and saute over medium heat. Add half a cup of the pasta water to help the kale cook.
- Season the kale with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the lemon.
- Steam the kale until it's tender and just starting to wilt. It should take less than 5 minutes.
- Once the pasta is cooked add it to the kale and store it.
- Remove the dish from the heat and stir in the greek yogurt and parmesan. Add a few more tablespoons of the pasta water to turn the greek yogurt and cheese into a sauce.
- Serve immediately.
I love my Kale Pasta recipes as written BUT here are some fun ways to mix them up.
- Make it Vegan Pasta: This recipe is vegetarian BUT could easily be made dairy-free or vegan by using vegan butter or just olive oil. You can also substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan. You can easily just leave off the greek yogurt at the end or substitute a vegan yogurt.
- Amp Up the Protein: If you want more protein you can add chicken, sausage, or shrimp if you'd like. Chickpeas or white beans would be a great protein option for vegans or vegetarians.
- Mix Up the Veggies: Other tasty vegetables are to add mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, artichokes, or olives.
- Mix Up the Pasta: You can make this with any type of pasta you have.
- Add Some Texture: For a crunch add some nuts on top! Pine nuts would be lovely on this Kale Pasta recipe.
- Add Some Spice: Make it spicy by adding more red pepper flakes.
- Make it Brighter: Make it extra lemony by adding fresh lemon zest.
How do you store the leftovers?
I doubt you will have leftovers but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. When you reheat it you might want to add a touch of water or stock to bring it back to life.
Can I make this ahead of time?
I do think this tastes best fresh, just out of the pot because the creamy sauce absorbs into the pasta BUT it is still good reheated for leftovers and meal prep.
What can I do with lots of kale?
Have a big bag of kale that you don't know what to do with? Try this recipe! It's great for even the kale haters because of the tender, massaged kale with lemon and garlic.
Stop here if you are looking for the best Kale Pasta recipes!
My Kale Pasta recipe may have been unplanned originally, but now it is worthy of a top spot in my regular dinner rotation... and I hope yours too. My family now eats this unexpected combination a few times a month. It's even turned into one of the twin's favorite meals! And yes, they eat kale. 🙂
More Healthy Pasta Dishes to Love:
- Healthy Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Avocado Pasta
- 4 Ingredient Caprese Pasta Salad
- Bruschetta Pasta Salad
- Tex Mex Pasta Salad
- Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese
More Healthy Kale Recipes to Love:
- Kale Ceasar Pasta Salad
- Lemon Garlic Kale
- Kale Salad with Lemon Baked Salmon and Tahini Dressing
- Sauteed Kale and Butternut Squash
- Kale Ceasar Salad
- Chopped Kale Salad with Almonds and Cranberries
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment and a star rating ★ below. Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook too!
Kale Pasta Recipe
- 8 ounces dried Fusilli, corkscrew pasta (about 3 cups)
- 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic, 3 cloves
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 bunch Kale, chopped (about 8 cups)
- ¼ teaspoon salt & pepper to taste
- pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 cup hot pasta water, divided
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan
- ¼-1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- Garnish: red pepper flakes, parmesan, parsley
- Boil pasta in generously salted water, following package instructions. Check the pasta 2 minutes before the box says. You are looking for a perfect al dente bite in your pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic in the butter and olive oil over low heat in a big pot. Allow to cook for 30 seconds, but do not burn!
- Add the kale to the pot and mix with the butter, olive oil and garlic. Turn to medium-low heat.
- Season with the salt, pepper and optional red pepper flakes.
- Add the ½ cup of hot pasta water from your boiling pasta (be careful!) and the lemon.
- Allow the kale to steam for about five minutes or until tender.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the pot with the kale and stir.
- Finish by stirring in the parmesan, greek yogurt and a bit more pasta water. Add a few tablespoons at a time until your greek yogurt turns into a sauce.
- Garnish with the additional red pepper flakes, parsley and parmesan.
Pin for later:
This sounds so yummy! Growing to love kale
Kale is one of my favorites! Love to incorporate healthy options on my pasta! This is very good recipe to add to my list!
Jen @ JENRON DESIGNS says
It sounds nice but I unfortunately can not eat Kale due to an dietary allergy or intolerance to it. I know, weird right? It took forever to figure out since it is a "superfood" but it causes such horrible pain in my gut and bloat I can never eat it again.
Pasta with veggies is one of my favourite dinner ideas, I’ve never put lemon in mine though. In Italy we really don’t put in pasta, I wonder how it will taste. 😂 I bet delicious thought
Amber Myers says
Oh yum, I do love pasta so I will have to give this a try. Kale is hit or miss with me but I always try something once to see!
Miz Helen says
What a great bowl of goodness, I love the combination with the Kale and Pasta! Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday!
Come Back Soon,
Kale in pasta is my JAM. This looks delicious!
Thanks Annmarie! So good!
I love those recipes that totally aren't officially planned, but they turn out delicious. Piles of delicious pasta are always so good.
Yes-- sometimes those are the best! Thanks Emily.
dixya @food, pleasure, and health says
i could see this pasta happening except that i have a ton of spinach that i need to get rid of.
It would be tasty with spinach too!
I love pasta with some greens... I bet the lemon really brightens this up. Looks delish!
It does!! So tasty! Thanks Vicki.
Diatta @ Femme Fitale Fit Club says
My 2 favorite things - kale and pasta MEETING in a single dish. And with a dash of red pepper flakes - heaven I am sure.
Pragati // Simple Medicine says
I love adding kale to pasta - it's the perfect way to add greens and fiber.
Me too! Kale is my go to veggie lately!
Tina muir says
Julie, this looks delicious! I love the idea of using kale in pasta, and glad you were able to get creative with things, and find one that worked! Thanks for joining us again today 🙂
Thanks Tina! Great to see you today!
Madeline St Onge says
OK you got me hooked on the Kale salad you posted and now I need to try this 😉 I ALWAYS have pasta and some beans on hand in the pantry so I will never go hungry LOL
Have a great weekend
Lean Lena says
This recipe looks and sounds absolutely amazing! I'm pinning and cooking it on the next pasta night 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing it with the Tasty Tuesday this week, Julie 🙂
Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction says
Simple really is best sometimes! Love pasta dishes like this!
I feel ya on not wanting to go to grocery stores right before inclement weather kicks in. It always makes me think the apocalypse is upon us. ._.
Love how quick, simple and delicious this recipe looks! 😀 I need to go get kale!
Sounds delicious! I love kale and love pasta but don't think I've ever combined them.
Thanks Chaitali! It is kind of a match made in foodie heaven! Thanks for stopping by today! Hope to see you again soon.
I've been seeing so many awesome kale recipes! It's making me fall in love with this veggie! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com
I'm a big fan right now! So fresh and healthy.
I have some in my fridge atm.. but no pasta.. boo!!!
I can totally get on board with this recipe. It sounds so great! (And will even better tomorrow when we hit 70 degrees.)
Hola! I can't wait!
MaryBeth at The Thrive Blog says
I love a good pasta! Especially, with lemon!
Me too! I think the lemon adds so much flavor without extra fat.
Joanna @Makingmine says
Wow - this is a beautiful dish! Sounds like a perfect combo!
Thanks Joanna! Healthy kale...not so healthy pasta. It is all about balance :-
Blane Sherer says
Very nice and resourceful.
I love all of your recipes! Kale is so abundant this time of year (it's one of very few veggies that does well in the cold Connecticut winter) so we have been eating a lot of it lately. I bet the red pepper flakes really stand out in this dish.
It does! It is just a nice pop of heat without being overwhelming. It goes well with the lemon too.
Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes says
This looks awesome. I've made something similar but used goat cheese instead....so good!
The goat cheese really is a brilliant idea!
Jess @hellotofit says
Mm this looks so yummy! Staples for me are milk, lemons, chickpeas, butter, eggs...sounds random haha!
Oddly sounds like my staples! Lemons are always on my list.
Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner says
Yum super easy and I love kale these days! I usually have those ingredients around the house.
Me too! I've been picking up a big bunch at the store each week.
Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie says
This is exactly my kinda pasta! I love minimal ingredients for a pasta dish so that the pasta and the added flavors can really be the star.
It makes me remember how fabulous just pasta really is! haha!
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
This is really similar in terms of flavor to how I steam my kale! salt, garlic powder and lemon juice then put the top over it--sooooo good.
I love the lemon with it! Great minds think alike!
1. this looks amazing
2. i cannot believe you make/photograph posts that far in advanced!
I don't plan out posts, more like, I make something, if I get a good photo and eat it, then i can post it, if I remember, #worstbloggerever 🙂
your photos are beautiful!
Thanks so much! I've worked so hard to try to make my photos better.
I'm sure you are not the worst blogger ever 🙂
Julie Bantin says
This looks divine. I'll have to try it soon. I love kale.
Thanks so much Julie! I love kale too. It is vitamin rich and versatile.