Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

I was never a fan of pasta salad. Something about cold pasta, and the general tendency to include mayonnaise in recipes turned me off to it for a long time. It was only recently that I discovered that pasta salad made with pesto is actually really, really good.

Mom gave me a small bunch of kale last week and I decided to use it in a kale pesto. I didn’t work from a recipe for this, I just went with what I thought would be good; it worked surprisingly well.

Kale Pesto

  • 1 small bunch kale, de-stemmed
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 bunch (1 stem) basil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup mild cheese (I used Comte here because I had it on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put everything except the oil in a food processor or blender and pulse until it begins combine. Add the olive oil and blend until the pesto is a paste consistency.

One thing I like about pesto is that you can really change it depending on what you have on hand and it doesn’t impact the dish all that much. Don’t have almonds, use pistachios, pecans or hazelnuts. Don’t have a particular kind of cheese, use what you have on hand. I ended up using the Comte because I didn’t have any Parmesan. I used almonds instead of more traditional pine nuts because they were in the freezer and convenient. I like a lot of garlic, so I used three cloves. If you like less garlic, use one or two.


For the actual pasta salad I used a half a box (8 oz) of whole wheat penne pasta, cooked 10 minutes, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Mix everything together. For a hot pasta dish, serve immediately and for a cold pasta salad, chill for two hours. I’m not sure how this would hold up in a picnic since there is cheese in the pesto, but I have to think it would be better than a mayo dish in the hot sun or sitting out for a few hours.

One thought on “Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. Anything with pesto, count us in. I have made arugula pesto but haven’t tried kale pesto! Looks delicious. http://www.ourfoodieappetite.com/el-arepazo-latin-grill-review-gahanna-oh/

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