This healthy Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad recipe makes a delicious lunch, dinner, or shared dish at a gathering. Please note, it is best served after two hours of refrigeration and/or it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

Makes 4 Servings


For main dish: 

  • 1 8 oz. box lentil or chickpea pasta (rotini, penne, or farfalle)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach or arugula

For the kale pesto: 

  • 1 small bunch kale, tough ribs removed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Keep at a low boil until ready to use.
  2. To make the kale pesto, blanch the kale leaves in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the kale to a colander, and rinse with cold water.
  3. With the food processor running, drop the clove of garlic in through the top opening and process until finely minced.
  4. Squeeze the blanched kale leaves to remove as much moisture as possible, and rough chop the leaves. Add to the food processor, along with the basil, parmesan cheese and walnuts.
  5. Process until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  6. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, and process until you have a mostly smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1⁄2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain and immediately rinse the pasta under cool water to prevent the noodles from sticking to one another.
  8. Transfer the cooked pasta to a serving bowl and toss with just enough kale pesto to thoroughly coat, adding a tiny splash of reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to thin it out.
  9. Then add the cherry tomatoes and greens.
  10. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

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