Pasta with Kale, Lemon and Toasted Walnuts
Today I’m giving you all a tasty, healthy, easy, family approved and under 30 minute weeknight pasta (whew, that was a mouthful)! I mean who doesn’t love that! This pasta is a basically a cross between my broccoli lemon pasta and lacinato kale salad. It incorporates the best of both recipes. The pasta literally take no time to put together, (under 30 minutes) thus making it perfect for those busy Meatless Mondays, or any busy weeknight. If you have your kale de-stemmed and ready to go, then this will take even less time. All you’re basically doing is zesting and juicing a lemon, mincing some garlic, and then sautéing all of the ingredients together while the pasta cooks. You then toss them all together in one pot and enjoy!
The whole-wheat pasta has a great nutty flavor and is a bit chewy, but chewy in a good way, and the Pecorino Romano cheese adds a bit of salty flavor to the whole-wheat pasta. Oh, and let’s not forget about those toasted walnuts, they add an amazing crunch, flavor and texture to the pasta!
This is a great gateway pasta to get your kids to like kale, as the lemon and garlic disguise the bitter taste of the kale. If you’re kids are not fans of whole-wheat pasta, you can use regular spaghetti, easy peasy! Eli gives this pasta a thumbs up, and look at that big bunch of kale on his fork.
pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts:
- 1 pound whole-wheat, regular or brown rice spaghetti – I prefer bionaturae whole-wheat pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (roughly 4-5 cloves)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, de-stemmed and thinly sliced – to see how to de-stem and thinly slice kale click here
- pinch of sea salt
- zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for topping – If you’re using regular pasta you can use Parmesan cheese, but I would suggest using the Pecorino for the whole-wheat version.
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and then broken into small pieces
Let’s start by prepping the ingredients. Toast up the walnuts. To toast them, just put some raw walnuts in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Set them aside.
Wash, de-stem and thinly slice your kale. If you’re not sure how to de-stem and slice kale then you can check out my post on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale, or you can watch the beginning part of my lacinato kale salad video for instructions as well. This video has really helped my readers easily understand how to de-stem kale quickly over the sink.
Mince your garlic cloves, and zest and juice your lemon.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain.
Meanwhile, when the pasta has about 5 minutes left to cook, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for approximately 1 minute, or until tender and fragrant.
Add in the sliced kale along with a pinch of sea salt, and cook, tossing and moving the kale around so that it doesn’t burn, as well as making sure that it gets coated in the olive oil and garlic mixture, until wilted and tender, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add in the lemon zest and juice, and give it all a good toss to combine.
Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Add in some of the reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce. This is to taste and you really just want to add enough water so that the pasta isn’t sticking together in clumps.
Add in the 1/2 cup grated cheese and toss to combine.
Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top each bowl of pasta with the toasted walnuts and the grated cheese.