Made with only a few simple ingredients, this easy Kale Pasta recipe is hearty, healthy, and hits the spot. This simple recipe for pasta with kale makes a great meatless entree and is a fabulous way to incorporate more plant based recipes into your diet.
You know those nights when you open the fridge or stand in the pantry, searching for something easy to make? This recipe for Kale Pasta is the recipe that will solve your dilemma of What to make for dinner when there seems like there is nothing to make?
This simple pasta dinner is made with orecchiette pasta, fresh kale, and chickpeas. It is hearty, healthy, and has incredible flavor.
But it is also versatile. The ingredients can be swapped out to use what you have on hand.
Rigatoni instead of orecchiette? No problem. You can use any type of noodle you have in your pantry for this recipe. I prefer a whole grain pasta, but any pasta will do–even gluten free pasta works!
No kale? Use spinach or broccoli.
Not a chickpea fan? The chickpeas add protein, texture and heartiness, but you can certainly use cannellini beans or omit the beans altogether.
But the magic to this pasta dish is that the greens absorb the flavor of the wine and seasonings and add so much flavor to the pasta. It is absolutely incredible–and RIDICULOUSLY simple!
How to Make Pasta with Kale
While the ingredients are interchangeable for this recipe, there are a few key steps that turn this pasta dinner into something spectacular that you don’t want to skip.
The first trick, is to cook the pasta correctly. You want to cook the pasta in a rapidly boiling water that has been heavily salted. The pasta gets some of it’s flavor from the water so it is really important to salt well. Cook the pasta, until just al dente–about 1 to 2 minutes LESS than the package states. The pasta will finish cooking with the kale and chickpeas, so you do not want it to be overcooked.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the kale. Kale is quite bitter and sturdy, so needs cooked down with seasonings to develop flavor. I saute the kale with dry white wine, vegetable broth, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. The kale becomes tender and flavorful and delicious! Once the kale is wilted, add in garlic and beans and warm through before adding the pasta.
Add in pasta with pasta water. The trick to bringing this dish together is adding some of the cooking liquid from the pasta to the kale and bean mixture. The salty, starchy water adds tremendous flavor and adds moisture to this simple pasta dish. After adding the pasta and cooking liquid, cook just long enough to combine and heat through.
Finish with fresh lemon juice. To brighten all the flavors in this kale pasta, fresh lemon juice is key! it compliments the dry white wine, and kale quite nicely as well. Be sure to use FRESH lemon juice. If you only have jarred, skip the lemon juice entirely, as the flavor is not the same.
Serve the pasta. In my book, this pasta needs nothing else! But if you are looking for a richer dish, finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. And if don’t have dietary restrictions, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
More Simple Pasta Recipes
If you are looking for more easy pasta dinners, these are a few great options to try.
- Tuscan Pasta: A simple vegetarian pasta with roasted tomatoes and white beans. This simple recipe is easily made vegan friendly as well.
- Healthy Pasta Primavera: A lightened up creamy pasta dish filled with fresh veggies.
- Easy Baked Rotini: It does not get easier than this recipe for baked rotini.
- Slow Cooker Baked Ziti: Prepare homemade sauce and cook noodles right in the slow cooker.
- 1 bunch kale stems removed and chopped (about 6 cups)
- 8 ounces Orecchiette pasta or past of choice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided--see notes to make this oil free
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 (15 ounce can) chickpeas rinsed and drained*
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Heavily salt with kosher salt and add in pasta. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the package directions state. When pasta has finished cooking, drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. DO NOT RINSE the pasta!
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and saute for 3-4 minutes, until it begins to wilt down. If it does not fit in the pot all at once, add by gradual handfuls, stir and allow it to wilt down, then add more. Once all of the kale is added and has wilted down, add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the wine and chickpeas to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated off. Add in the vegetable broth, ¼ cup reserved pasta water, and cooked pasta, tossing to combine. Cook until the pasta is finished cooking and the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, adding up to ¼ cup more pasta water if needed as it finishes cooking.
- Turn off the heat and finish with the fresh lemon juice, additional tablespoon of olive oil, and Parmesan if using.
- Feel free to use dried chickpeas that you have cooked, instead of canned chickpeas. Just keep in mind you may need to add additional salt.
- To keep this recipe oil free, use vegetable broth in place of olive oil. As the garlic and kale saute, you may need to add a bit more broth than just 2 tablespoons as the stock evaporates.
- Feel free to use spinach in place of the kale. The spinach will cook much quicker than kale.
- To make this pasta without wine, use vegetable broth in place of the white wine. If using wine, be sure it is a dry wine, like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, not a sweet wine.