Tender pasta smothered in a creamy, garlicky avocado-kale pesto sauce … that’s this simple and delicious green pasta recipe. Also known as avocado pesto pasta, this pasta in green sauce is easy and fast to make – 7 ingredients and 20 minutes to make – and it’s perfect for easy lunches and dinners.
Quick, put down the green food coloring! With all the amazing naturally green foodstuffs out there, there’s no need for that stuff, nuh uh. If you’re looking for pasta in green sauce, this Creamy Avocado Kale Pasta is about as green as green can get.
Table of Contents
- About This Green Pasta Recipe
- Avocado Pesto Pasta Ingredients
- How to Adapt Green Pasta to Make it Your Own
- How to Make It
- How to Store Green Pasta
- Make-Ahead Notes
About This Green Pasta Recipe
Have you heard of avocado pasta? Basically, you puree avocado with a few other tasty morsels and bam! The most luxuriously creamy pasta sauce. It’s brilliant and I wish I’d been the first to think of it, but I wasn’t (from what I can tell, it was Angela from Oh She Glows, which makes perfect sense because she’s always one to come up with such innovative recipes.)
This creamy avocado kale pasta is a riff on that one. I removed a couple of ingredients (basil and olive oil) and added to it (lots of kale and a smattering of pine nuts).
The result is an utterly emerald pasta dish that I definitely do not reserve just for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s an all-the-time thing around here.
(Oh, and bonus: This recipe is totally a sneaky way to usher kale into kale-haters’ diets without them even knowing. If, you know, you are into that sort of thing!)
Avocado Pesto Pasta Ingredients
I love that all you need is a super simple list of ingredients to make this swoon-worthy pasta.
- Pasta – I love whole wheat pasta with this one, but use whichever you’d like (brown rice pasta is great, too, if you’re eating gluten-free)
- Pine nuts – I like to give these a quick toast in a skillet for more flavor.
- Avocado – you’ll know it’s ripe if, when you lightly press it, it feels like the skin on your palm just below your thumb. This is a tip I picked up from What’s Gaby Cooking somewhere along the way, and it’s my fave way to check them!
- Kale – I love to use kale in my pesto; it’s a great way to sneak in those dark leafy greens. Feel free to sub in fresh basil for a more traditional twist. Spinach is great for a milder option, and parsley is fab because it’s parsley and parsley is always fab!
- Garlic – two fresh cloves.
- Lemon juice – helps brighten and balance the flavors of the creamy pesto.
- Crushed red pepper flakes – I love a touch of heat in this green pasta.
- Salt – To taste.
How to Adapt Green Pasta to Make it Your Own
This green pasta is vegetarian, dairy-free, and vegan as-is.
- To make it gluten-free, just swap in GF pasta.
- For the carnivores, you can add meat – such as grilled chicken – to the carnivores’ portions really easily.
- For a lower glycemic load, everyone’s different, but I’ve found using whole wheat pasta helps keep my blood sugar more balanced as compared to white pasta, due to the higher protein and fiber content in whole wheat pasta. More information here
- Use your favorite pasta shape. Tubes and pastas with nooks and crannies are great for grabbing all the sauce, but I’m a huge fan of spaghetti for this one.
- Brown rice pasta, whole wheat pasta, pasta pasta – all great. Use whichever kind you like.
- For the pine nuts, feel free to swap in another seed or nut. Cashews, pecans, walnuts, and pepitas are all wonderful. Pepitas even have the added bonus of being green if you’re going full-on emerald with your green pasta!
- For the green pasta sauce, I recommend keeping the avocado no matter what because it’s key to the creamy sauce. But feel free to swap in different greens and/or herbs. Basil, parsley, arugula, spinach … all delicious.
Scaling this Recipe
- This pasta in green sauce recipe is easily doubled or halved; just double or half the ingredients. Use a large pot to cook the pasta if you’re doubling it; you’ll want lots of room!
How to Make It
This recipe is SO VERY easy to make.
First, you cook your pasta, and reserve a cup of the pasta water. This is very important, because it is a key component of your green pasta sauce.
Then, give the pine nuts a quick toast in a skillet and set them aside.
Next, add some of the pine nuts and the remaining ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth, adding pasta water until it’s the perfect creamy consistency.
Finally, place the cooked pasta in a serving bowl, toss until coated with the luxurious green sauce, and top with the remaining pine nuts. Feel free to add a green garnish, too – I just kept it super simple for the photos.
How to Store Green Pasta
This recipe does NOT keep well, due to the avocado, so I recommend you eat it as soon as you make it. There is not enough lemon juice to keep the green pasta sauce from turning brown after awhile in the fridge.
For the most part, you’ll want to make this pasta in green sauce right before you’re going to eat it. One step that you can do in advance to cut down on prep time is to toast the pine nuts. Allow them to cool then place in an airtight storage container and keep at room temperature until you’re ready to make your avocado pesto pasta.
If you try and love this recipe for green pasta, please leave a review! Even if you don’t absolutely love it, I welcome any and all feedback and I share all legit reviews. I test my recipes multiple times in my home kitchen, but I really appreciate knowing how they’re working for others; your reviews help me make tweaks until my recipes are just right! And they’re so valuable for other readers, too. Thank you! ❤️
20-Minute Green Pasta
- 8 ounces spaghetti pasta (or another favorite pasta; we also like this with penne)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (divided)
- 1 ripe avocado (pitted and peeled)
- 2 cups kale leaves (ribs removed and torn into medium pieces)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- High-speed blender such as Vitamix, for making the sauce
- Large pot for cooking the pasta
- Skillet for toasting the pine nuts
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. RESERVE 1 CUP OF THE WATER YOU COOKED THE PASTA IN.
- While the pasta cooks, toast the pine nuts. Place in a skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts to a pitcher of a high-powered blender along with the avocado, kale, garlic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Puree until completely smooth, adding more water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to keep it moving.
- Add cooked and drained pasta to your serving bowl. Pour the avocado-kale sauce over the top. Toss to combine. Top with remaining pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Meat option:Top carnivores’ portions with a few slices of grilled chicken breast.
Gluten-free option:Swap in your favorite gluten-free pasta. I love brown rice pasta. More adaptations/substitutions:
- Pasta: Use your favorite pasta shape. Keep it to 8 ounces of whichever pasta you use. Brown rice pasta, whole wheat pasta, white pasta are all great, just use whichever you like.
- Pine nuts: Feel free to swap in another seed or nut. Cashews, pecans, walnuts, and pepitas are all wonderful. Pepitas even have the added bonus of being green, too!
- Sauce: I recommend keeping the avocado no matter what because it’s key to the creamy sauce. But feel free to swap in different greens and/or herbs. Basil, parsley, arugula, spinach … all delicious.