Vegan pesto pasta with kale

Vegan pesto pasta with kale

vegan pesto pasta bowl

Hope you guys enjoyed the Easter long weekend? We had grand plans of going hiking somewhere around Bristol, combined with having a picnic and a cake for Duncan’s upcoming birthday, but the weather had other plans…

Plus we decided not to push it as we have both been feeling a bit off colour lately. Nothing major, but I woke up with a sore throat on Saturday and Duncan is having a bit of trouble with his sinuses, so we decided that trudging in the rain is probably not the brightest idea. Especially that we are going away to Devon for Duncan’s b’day next weekend and being ill is not part of the plan.

We’ve decided to help our immune systems by doing some more gentle yoga, quitting sugar completely (I make it sound like that’s no big deal, but I have been craving chocolate SO MUCH, especially with my afternoon coffee) and consuming insane quantities of fresh ginger tea. It seems to be working as I am already feeling much better, so much so that I’m considering going running again tomorrow.

As I was overly enthusiastic in the veg aisle again, I ended up with tons of kale in my fridge. I wasn’t in the mood for a smoothie so I decided to make a quick lemony pesto out of it instead. I stirred it through some wholemeal pasta and added lots of green veggies to it to turn it into a spring-inspired dish. If you want this dish to be extra quick, don’t bother cooking the zucchini or asparagus as they can be both eaten raw, just slice them both very thinly (a speed peeler is your friend here) and add them to the pasta as they are. You’ll end up with less process and a welcome nutritional boost.

vegan pesto pasta food processor

vegan pesto in a jar

vegan pesto pasta lunch

20 min
10 min
20 min
10 min
PESTO (makes about 240 ml / 1 cup)

  • 70 g / ½ cup almonds (hemp seeds or sunflower seeds for nut allergies)
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz kale (I used Lacinato kale)
  • 25 g / 0.9 oz fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ tsp salt, more to taste
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 120 ml / ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 360 g / 13 oz tortiglioni, rigatoni or penne (GF if needed)
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 courgettes / baby zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 200 g / 7 oz asparagus, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml oil (optional, if stir-frying vegetables)
  • hemp seeds (optional)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  1. Roast the almonds in a hot pan until golden and fragrant. You could also do it in an oven (180° C / 355° F) for about 10 minutes – start checking on them towards the end of the baking time as they can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds. Allow the almonds to cool down completely before blending in the pesto.
  2. Place all the pesto ingredients apart from the olive oil into a food processor. I used 4 tbsp / ¼ cup of lemon juice in my pesto, but I like things to be lemony so you may want to adjust the amount to your taste. Process until chopped small and then start trickling in olive oil while the motor is going.
  3. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  4. Boil a large pot of water and cook your pasta al dente or to your liking.
  5. Prepare the vegetables by either boiling them, steaming or stir-frying quickly. I boiled the peas for 2 minutes and then plunged them in ice-cold water to preserve their beautiful colour and stir-fried the zucchini and asparagus in a hot wok for 2 minutes. You could also eat both the zucchini and asparagus raw (slice the zucchini thinly and shave the asparagus with a speed peeler) if you would like to incorporate some untampered nutrition into this dish!
  6. Drain your pasta and toss it in some pesto, mix the veggies in and serve.
  7. For the topping, mix the hemp seeds with nutritional yeast (1:1 ratio) in a small bowl for a quick vegan parmesan. Give each portion a squeeze of lemon and a light sprinkle of chilli flakes (I used fine Korean chilli flakes) if you wish.
6 g
26 g
3 g
13 g
54 g
*per serving
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6 reviews, 16 comments
I just have to say that this is a staple recipe for my husband and I. It's not often that we re-make recipes that we've found on the internet, but we've made this one more times than I can count! I never get tired of this recipe and I love that it uses up a lot of zucchini, kale, and basil in the summer when I always have too much growing in the garden then I know what to do with. Thank you for creating and sharing this recipe!
    Thank you, Kayla! I am really pleased to hear that this recipe has served you so well and thank you for letting me know that you enjoy it so much - much appreciated. x Ania
I tried this recipe last night and wow! So yummy and full of flavour! Could easily eat this very often and probably will :)
I used pan fried asparagus, courgette (zucchini) fried with garlic and al dente peas, so fresh tasting !
    Great to hear that you enjoyed it, Kitty! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it so much and many thanks for reviewing. x Ania
Hi..I can't seem to print your wonderful receipe. I clink print and nothing happens?
    I am sorry to hear that, I've just tested it and it works fine for me. Perhaps that's the settings of your browser? It should launch a new window, followed by a printer dialogue box. Ania
This is an excellent recipe. So tasty and fresh and healthy and lemony.
    I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you so much for letting me know that you enjoyed it. Ania
Hi, thanks for the recipe.
Can I use broccoli instead of kale?!
    I suppose so but you may need to blanch it first maybe...I haven't tried. Ania
This looks absolutely delicious and we have just put peas, green beans and courgettes in at the allotment so I will trying this when they're ready! Does the pesto freeze week.....just thinking about the inevitable courgette glut!
    Hi Laura,
    Yes, it freezes fine, but you could also just top it with extra layer of olive oil and store in the fridge for a long time (a few months even) - olive oil stops the pesto from getting mouldy. Hope that helps! Ania
Terri Edwards:
This looks delicious! Any thoughts about how it would do if I leave out the olive oil? Thanks so much for the recipe.
    Sure, how about using a ripe avocado thinned with a little water. Hope that helps! Ania
This was delicious and had a cheesy flavor which I loved. I will definitely make again!
    Thanks, Caitlin! I'm chuffed to hear that you enjoyed it so much! Ania
I made the kale pesto pasta today! I used GF chickpea pasta.
I went vegan 2 months ago,in fact,it's GF,DF,and soy free! -- I took the plunge (:
Thanks so much for the recipe! It was delicious!
    I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it, Chrysan! Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback and all the best on your vegan journey!! Ania
This was delicious!
    I'm delighted to hear that, Emma! Ania
I was literally JUST thinking about making pesto pasta when I got the notification! Excited to try this tonight, your blog is my go-to :)
    Yay! Sounds like a it was meant to be ;) Hope you'll enjoy it! Ania
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