Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts, also known as deliciously healthy-ish pasta (because hello…there’s kale)!. Homemade kale pesto with Tuscan kale, plenty of fresh basil, and a bit of parmesan. All tossed together with hot pasta, fried lemon, garlic, and buttery browned butter walnuts with thyme. It’s a simple yet vibrant take on pesto pasta that’s ready in 30-minutes and perfect any night of the week. Bonus, the leftovers make for a delicious lunch the following day.

overhead photo of Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts

I usually save Tuesdays for a somewhat sweet recipe, a bread, or some kind of “snacky” item. But this pasta just felt a little more fitting than what I had planned to share. You may have seen on my Instagram story yesterday that we’ve had complete blizzard-like conditions here. That could be another factor in my sudden impulse to switch things up. And hey, when isn’t pasta a great idea? Yes…it pretty much always is, right?

To me, almost nothing is better than a bowl of pesto pasta. Especially one that’s touched with butter, heavy on the herbs, and served over fresh burrata cheese. This recipe is very much my kind of recipe.

prep photo of raw kale

The Story.

It’s pretty simple. With winter in full force here, I’ve been searching high and low for anything fresh when it comes to produce. The thing I miss the most in winter is our summer herb garden. It’s filled with every fresh herb and edible flower I could ever want.

OK, that’s a major exaggeration. But we do usually have plenty of fresh basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, edible flowers, and microgreens growing. It’s my absolute favorite thing to walk across the road to the greenhouse and just pick. I miss that little herb garden so much. All the fresh herbs not only play a part in my recipe development but also in my photos. They add a freshness and a pop of color that can be so helpful when photographing food.

prep photo of pesto in food processor

But in the winter? I really, really struggle. Our grocery stores don’t always have the freshest selections, so it can be hard.

My solution? Buy every green thing imaginable and hope that something works. The reality of this “solution” is that I end up with a fridge full of random greens. And that’s where this pasta comes in. My fridge was full of kale and random herbs last week that were on their last leg. Instead of just handing them off to the goats, I figured I’d make an herby kale pesto as an attempt to use everything up.

I threw everything into my food processor and it ended up being so delicious that I decided to toss the pesto with hot pasta. I then added buttery walnuts and a small ball of my favorite burrata cheese.

Oh. So. Good.

Obviously I had to recreate the recipe to share. It’s probably not my most creative recipe, but this pasta sure is GOOD.

overhead photo of Buttery Walnuts in skillet

Here is how to make the perfect herby kale pesto pasta.

Truly, this is one of the simplest recipes. I know this might seem like a lot of kale, but you guys have to trust me on this. I promise, kale pesto is so very good, and remember, we’re not eating it plain, we’re tossing it with pasta, adding browned butter walnuts, and serving it with fresh burrata cheese.

First up, make the pesto. Unlike other kale pesto recipes, I decided to keep the kale completely raw instead of blanching it first in boiling water. I decided last year, after making this broccoli pesto, that there’s really no need to pre-cook the vegetable. The heat from the pasta creates perfectly steamed kale without turning it to mush.

Simply add a whole bunch of Tuscan kale (the flat kale), fresh basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, crushed red pepper (for some heat), and salt to a food processor or blender, then pulse until smooth. Simple.

Once the pesto is made, boil up some pasta. I used a short cut of pasta, but any cut of pasta will work well. Bucatini would be delicious, but shells are extra fun. Use what you love most.

overhead close up photo of Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts in serving bowl with fork

While the pasta is boiling, brown some butter…

YES. A little browned butter goes a long way here. And yes, you do need it. This step takes five minutes to do, but it makes ALL the difference and creates a recipe that’s truly mouth-watering.

The butter turns nutty, the walnuts golden, and the thyme gets perfectly crisp.

Once the nuts are toasted, toss in some garlic, then add the pasta and pesto, and toss everything together. As soon as the hot pasta hits that pesto incredible smells begin to happen…with hints of basil, fresh lemon, and garlic too.

At this point, spoon the warm pasta into bowls, add the burrata, then top with those buttery walnuts.

So delicious. Simple. Colorful. Perfect.

overhead photo of Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts with fork in bowl

Bonus…the leftovers are great the next day as an easy desk lunch or even re-warmed for dinner. You could also add a little roasted chicken for protein if you’d like…or maybe a side of bread?

Again, do what you love, either way, let’s all plan to make this pasta and soon? It’s such a nice vibrant meal to incorporate into these late winter days. Without a doubt, this is one of my current favorite recipes. I made it on a whim, but I already know this is going to become a dish that I repeat often.

It’s simple, but warming, and so delicious!

side angled photo of Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts

Lastly, if you make this herby kale pesto pasta with buttery walnuts, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts | halfbakedharvest.com
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4.48 from 63 votes

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

The Recipe

Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts.

A simple vibrant take on pesto pasta that’s ready in 30 minutes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 445 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 pound of your favorite pasta
  • black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup raw walnuts roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1-2 balls fresh burrata cheese, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. 1. In a blender or food processor, combine the kale, basil, parmesan, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper. Pulse until chunky smooth. 

    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. 

    3. Meanwhile, heat the butter, walnuts, thyme, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a large skillet. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the butter is browned and the walnuts are toasted. Remove the nuts from the skillet to a plate.

    4. Add the garlic to the skillet, cooking 1 minute, until fragrant. Drop the pasta into the skillet. Add the kale pesto, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper. Toss to combine. Thin the pasta as desired with the reserved pasta cooking water.

    5. Break the burrata into the bottom of each individual serving bowl. Spoon the pasta over the cheese. Top with the buttery walnuts. Enjoy!

horizontal photo of Herby Kale Pesto Pasta with Buttery Walnuts