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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.

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

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

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  • 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


  • 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

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  1. 5 stars
    Omg! This is delicious. I love the butter walnuts and ALL the thyme. Subbed swiss chard for the kale and ricotta for the burrata. I have a new found love of walnuts in pasta.

    1. Hey Cara,
      Happy Friday! I am delighted that this recipe was enjoyed. I appreciate you giving it a try:) xTieghan

    2. 5 stars
      I had to omit the cheese and yet this is still SO CREAMY! Thanks for helping me figure out what kale is for!

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious- like all of your recipes! I tried this recipe 2 weeks ago and have already made it for the 3rd time!!!!

    1. Hey Tara,
      I am so glad this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! xxTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    I made this in August and froze the leftovers. We had it yesterday with dinner. Even without the burrata, it was still as delicious and my husband commented how flavorful it was.

  4. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I am a sucker for burrata cheese too :). The only change I made was adding some sautéed shrimp. Definitely will make again!

    1. Hey Joyce,
      This makes about 1 1/2 cups of pesto. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    Soooo good. Veganized with vegan parm. One of us did sneak some burrata. Super delish. Whole family enjoyed.

  6. 5 stars
    I was looking for a dinner to use up my seemingly endless supply of kale and basil. This was so good (even if I slightly burned the walnuts)! Put it over my quinoa pasta and it was very tasty.

  7. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve shared it with so many people. It’s so delicious and easy to make. I add some sauteed kale on top too.

    1. Hi Janelle,
      Use whatever kale you enjoy! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This is delicious! It was a little bitter when I first made it, not unpleasantly so, but I didn’t use it for an hour, by which time the flavors had blended and mellowed beautifully. I forgot to serve the walnuts, and I used ricotta instead of burrata and it was still outstanding. (I put the walnuts on some green beans the next day – that was delicious too.) Can’t wait to make this again, which will be easy since I had more pesto than I needed (only 2 of us.)

    1. That is so great! I am so glad you loved this one, Rose and I hope it turns out just as amazing the next time! Thank you so much! xTieghan

  9. I have made this dish a couple of times now for a few kale haters, they LOVED it. 🙂
    Thanks for helping me sneak in the veggies

  10. 5 stars
    yummy, yummy….fresh tasting. I used a mix of kale and swiss chard because that’s what I had on hand….tastes great. Thank you, Tieghan!

  11. 5 stars
    Another winner!! SO good. I followed the recipe exactly, except I used less kale than it called for because my blender is a wimp and after about a cup or so of kale, it was struggling. It was such a gorgeous green! I also used mozzarella instead of burrata because it was what I had. I used rotini for its “grabbiness.” This is going in my regular rotation!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      You could use spinach in place of the kale! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  12. This. Is. DELISH! I didn’t have any burrata so just grated some soft mozza on top, then the nuts on top of that. Transcendent. Thanks for this, T.

  13. 5 stars
    Swapped pecans for walnuts (because we that’s what we had) and Miso paste for the Parmesan to make it dairy free (gives you the salt/umami). Came out amazing, this goes into rotation for sure!

  14. 5 stars
    I was in the mood for healthy comfort food and stumbled across this gem today. I added extra torn kale to my dish for some additional greens. This is delicious and will definitely be one of my go-to’s for quick and delicious!

  15. I’m wondering if spinach would potentially make a good substitute for the kale in this recipe…Thoughts?

  16. Question! When you remove the nuts and add the garlic, do you add it to the remaining brown butter or do you discard and start fresh?

  17. This was the first of your recipes that really didn’t work for me. 🙁 the kale is so fibrous it just all clumped together when I put it in the pan with the pasta, and it was almost like the Parmesan in the pesto glued it all together. I couldn’t thin the clumps enough to flavor the pasta.

    1. Oh no! Is there anything that could have gone wrong while making this? I would love to help you out! xTieghan

  18. Hi Tieghan – Just wondering about the walnuts – I see you use them a lot. Do you remove the walnuts from the brown butter and reserve it for something else? Or do the walnust mostly soak up the butter?
    Thanks so much – looking forward to trying some of your recipes!
    – Jenn

    1. Hey Jenn! I also use any additional browned butter and spoon it over the pasta with the walnuts. It’s delicious! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  19. Hi Tieghan! I made this recipe tonight, and wow it was soooo good. I’ve never heard or made kale pesto, but now its the only pesto I want. And you can’t even taste the kale. It’s the basil you taste! Its funny because I had all the ingredients on hand from other recipes I had been making in the week from your blog. So very easy to make! I cooked spinach tortellini from Trader Joes for the pasta, and also added tomato basil sausage and spinach into the mix, and it was so delicious! The walnuts are a fun crunch, and I’ll use the extra to spice up salads. Also, I made the pesto the night before, and then had it ready to go when I was cooking the pasta. Anyways, as always very inspired by your cooking! Thanks!!

    1. Thank you so much Sarah! I am so glad this recipe turned out so well for you and I hope you continue to love others as well! xTieghan

  20. I made this tonight and really enjoyed it (used bucatini for the pasta). I think next time I would use a ‘grabbier’ pasta because the pesto kind of separated from the noodles. Overall it was really nice and I especially liked the brown butter walnuts!

  21. 5 stars
    I vegan-ized this recipe using vegan Parmesan and butter, and leaving out the burrata (sadly). Also used GF pasta and threw a few pieces of cauliflower in because I had it. This one is going into the rotation for sure!

    1. Thank you so much Tonya! I am sure sometime in the near future they will have vegan burrata haha! I am so glad you enjoyed this! xTieghan

  22. You don’t include broccoli in the ingredients but it is in the directions can you tell us how much broccoli??

    1. Hi Viki! No broccoli is needed in the recipe. That was a typo. All fixed now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  23. So do we add broccoli or not? It is not in the ingredient list ( unless I am overlooking it) but it is in the instructions.

    1. Hi Sheila! No broccoli is needed in the recipe. That was a typo. All fixed now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

  24. Hi, recipe looks great, but in the instructions you mention broccoli, but it’s not listed in the ingredients section–unclear if it should be added and if so, how much!


    1. Hi Stephanie! No broccoli is needed in the recipe. That was a typo. All fixed now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

    1. Hi Maddy! No broccoli is needed in the recipe. That was a typo. All fixed now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan

    1. Hi Mary! No broccoli is needed in the recipe. That was a typo. All fixed now! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan