Easy Kale Pesto Pasta recipe - Garlicky, nutrient-rich pesto and juicy cherry tomatoes join up with pasta in this easy vegetarian dinner recipe that's on the table in under 30 minutes.

My friend Megan is a seriously hard-working mama of two adorable (and busy!) girls. A version of this recipe appears in her family’s regular simple-weeknight-meal rotation, and it’s easy to tell why: it’s a cinch to put together, it’s delicious, and, well … it’s delicious. She even brought us all the fixings to whip up a welcome batch of Pesto Pasta when we were fresh home from the hospital with our newborn a few months back. We love Megan.

Megan’s version uses basil pesto, and it’s terrific. For this variation, I used kale and toasted walnut pesto for a slight variation in flavor along with some nutrient-loaded, omega-3 superfood power.

(“Nutrient-loaded, omega-3 superfood power” means you can eat a little more pasta than you normally would, and it’s totally justified.)

Freeze that pesto!

I like to make one big patch of pesto then freeze in muffin tins. It thaws beautifully, and having the pesto ready-made makes this dish even easier to put together in a hurry. Store-bought pesto can work great, too.

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Easy Kale Pesto Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 4 servings
Perfectly al dente bow tie pasta tossed with garlicky, nutrient-rich pesto and juicy cherry tomatoes and then flecked with Parmesan cheese makes the perfect easy weeknight meal.


Kale & Toasted Walnut Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup plain walnuts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 3 cups kale (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + a couple additional tablespoons for sprinkling on top
  • Approx. 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pesto Pasta:

  • 8 ounces bow tie pasta
  • 1/2 cup kale & toasted walnut pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Make the pesto:

  • In a medium saute pan over medium heat, stir the walnuts until just lightly toasted, about two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Pulse the garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then add the kale, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until chopped, turning it off periodically and removing the top to press the kale down toward the blade if necessary.
  • With the food processor running on low, pour the olive oil in in a steady stream until it forms a sauce.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make the pesto pasta:

  • Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, per package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta, then let cool for a few minutes.
  • Add the pasta to a large serving bowl along with 1/2 cup of the pesto, cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Toss until combined, adding a bit of the pasta cooking liquid if necessary which will help distribute the pesto throughout the pasta.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese atop the pasta and serve at room temperature.

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