Kale Walnut Pesto Mezze Penne Pasta Recipe

Kale Walnut Pesto Mezze Penne Pasta Recipe Recipe

Baby Aria is a bit fussy these days. I'm sure the fact that my husband Lulu's away for his work creates  a bit of distress for her. She's started  consistently saying no to everything I serve up. I figure she's not defying me; she's finding herself. So my remedy was to formulate my statements differently. "Maman is going to eat this delicious pasta dish all by myself" and two seconds later, Aria asked for a portion of it. 

She hasn't been eating enough vegetables for my taste so I've found flavoring the dish with pesto is a great way to get finicky kids to eat their veggies. I used mezze penne so all the pesto got trapped inside the ring shaped-pasta. For everyone out there who thinks healthy has to be tasteless, you need to try this dish. It's bursting with flavor without packing on too many calories.


Yields: 6 servings

16 ounces mezze penne pasta, cooked (save some of the water when draining the pasta)
½ cup Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
⅓ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
½ cup olive oil, as needed
8 ounces baby kale leaves
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked


For the kale pesto: Reserve a few kale leaves for garnish. In a blender (or a mini-food prep if you have one), combine the baby kale, lemon juice, walnuts, 1 clove of garlic, Pecorino cheese and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. You might want to add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once the pasta is cooked, add the cooked penne pasta to the pesto and toss for about 2 minutes. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little pasta water. Turn off the heat and mix until the pasta is well coated. Check seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.

Garnish with whole baby kale leaves and Pecorino shavings (if using).

Serve at room temperature.

Bon appétit!


You can store the pesto in your freezer for up to 6 months or up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. I always make extra to store in the freezer. I usually store the rest in an ice-cube tray and freeze it. Later, I transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer for future use. I add these cubes to sauces or marinades; the possibilities are endless.

If you don't have kale on hand, you could use any other greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, bok choy, spinach, Chinese cabbage or broccoli.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 7, 2014.


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