Rotini with Kale and Walnut Pesto: A Nutritious and Flavorful Pasta Dish

This Rotini with Kale and Walnut Pesto is a vibrant and wholesome meal that combines al dente rotini pasta with a homemade pesto sauce made from fresh kale, toasted walnuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor, this dish is perfect for a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner or a delicious lunch option.

Preparation Time:

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 12 oz (340g) rotini pasta
  • 4 cups packed kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: additional grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, toasted walnuts


  1. Cook Rotini:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
    • Add the rotini pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
    • Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Prepare Kale and Walnut Pesto:
    • In a food processor, combine the packed kale leaves, toasted walnuts, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
    • Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped and well combined.
  3. Add Olive Oil:
    • With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
    • If the pesto is too thick, you can add a splash of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.
  4. Toss with Rotini:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rotini pasta with the kale and walnut pesto.
    • Toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the pesto sauce.
  5. Serve:
    • Divide the Rotini with Kale and Walnut Pesto among serving plates or bowls.
    • Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and toasted walnuts if desired.
    • Serve hot and enjoy!

Serving Suggestions:

  • Main Course: Serve as a satisfying main course with a side salad or garlic bread.
  • Side Dish: Pair with grilled chicken or fish for a complete meal.
  • Meal Prep: This dish can be made ahead of time and enjoyed as a quick and nutritious lunch option throughout the week.

Cooking Tips:

  • Toasting Walnuts: Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Adjust Consistency: If the pesto is too thick, you can add more olive oil or pasta water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Make It Vegan: Omit the Parmesan cheese or use a dairy-free alternative to make the pesto vegan-friendly.

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Kale: Rich in vitamins K, A, and C, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
  • Walnuts: High in heart-healthy fats, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Provides protein and calcium, plus adds a savory flavor to the pesto.

Dietary Information:

  • Vegetarian: This recipe is suitable for vegetarians.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free rotini pasta to make the dish gluten-free.
  • Nut-Free Option: Substitute toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds for the walnuts for a nut-free version.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe:

  • Nutrient-Dense: Packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats from the kale and walnuts.
  • Quick and Easy: Ready in just 25 minutes, perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Versatile: You can customize the pesto with additional ingredients like lemon juice, basil, or parsley for extra flavor.


This Rotini with Kale and Walnut Pesto is a delicious and nutritious pasta dish that is sure to become a new favorite in your recipe repertoire. With its vibrant green color, bold flavors, and satisfying texture, it’s a meal that will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. Enjoy the goodness of kale and walnuts in every bite, and savor the wholesome goodness of this delightful pasta dish.

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