Recipe: Pasta with kale & walnut pesto

28th October, 2019
by Julian | 3 Min Read
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Pasta with kale & walnut pesto - from Sharpham cook Janet

It is the time of the year when our bodies yearn for the warmer, earthier dishes, no longer craving the light summery salads.

Instead we have the rich dark greens that feed us our goodness.

Kale feels like a superfood at this time of the year and nuts too are falling from the trees. It's the perfect time to nourish ourselves with them.

This simple pasta dish for 4 people brings these two health-giving ingredients together for a simple and delicious meal.



  • 250g kale (Cavolo Nero) taken off the stalks
  • 125g walnuts
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Chili flakes, to taste
  • 50g cheese (use vegan cheese if preferable)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or walnut oil
  • 300g pasta

How to make this dish

To make the pesto begin by toasting the walnuts in the oven at 180oC for 8 minutes, or on a medium heat in a frying pan. Gently toss them until they're lightly coloured and scented then roughly chop them.

Put two pans of salted water on and bring to a boil. Prepare the kale by stripping the leaves from the stems by running your hands down from the base of the stem to the top. Finely chop the kale and put in the boiling water for a couple of minutes, then immediately drain. Run it under cold water so it doesn’t continue to cook and discolour, then squeeze all the water out.

Zest and juice the lemon, then put the juice into a blender with the peeled garlic, olive or walnut oil, chili flakes, half the walnuts and half the kale.

Add seasoning and blend till creamy. Taste and - if needed - add more chili, seasoning and/or lemon to have the flavour and heat that you want.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water till al dente then keep a little of the water aside before draining.

Once drained, return the pasta to the pan, add a little water to the pesto to make it more creamy then stir through the pasta adding the rest of the kale, chopped walnuts and half the cheese.

Stir for a few minutes on a medium heat till the additional kale is warmed. Serve with the rest of the cheese of your choice: parmesan, feta, goat’s cheese or vegan alternatives or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, with the lemon zest and any additional chili flakes sprinkled over the top.

This is so simple to make, and you can have a meal made in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It feels light to eat, very satisfying on a cold autumnal day and can be varied easily by just adding a few different ingredients:  maybe a few sun-dried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, capers, hazelnuts or pinenuts or by adding a small bunch of basil or rocket.

Enjoy it your way! Just stir in lots of autumnal love.

Pictures by Janet