Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

posted in: Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian        date:

Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

As we transition from summer to fall, our meals have been reflecting the change of the season. Light summer dinners give way to heartier fall ones, but I’m not quite ready for winter’s soups and slow cooker meals. Choosing meals during this time of year has never been easy for me. Most of my favorite foods are out of season, or at least on their way out, and I usually spend this month feeling uninspired in terms of dinner (though it’s my favorite time for baked goods).

This pasta bridges the gap between the seasons. Still light enough for warm evenings but hearty enough for cool ones, it’s the perfect balance for this time of year. I love pesto for so many reasons – its adaptability, its simplicity, and its ability to be frozen for another day. If you have yet to find the kale love, this pesto is a great introduction. It’s nutty and fresh and not too bitter. Clara has even licked it off the spatula every time we’ve made it, so you know it must be good.

Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

  • YIELD: 6-8 servings
  • ½ cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds

  • 2 cloves garlic, peel intact

  • 2 cups packed chopped kale leaves

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

  • 1½ ounces (¾ cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving

  • ½-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • ⅓-½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta, such as linguine


Since this pesto makes enough for a pound of pasta, we typically make the entire batch of pesto but only cook half a pound of pasta. The remaining pesto keeps wonderfully in the refrigerator or freezer and becomes an easy way to cook dinner on a hurried night. We’ve also made it with sunflower seeds, which is what the original recipe called for. Both ways are delicious!

  • 1

    Toast the pumpkin seeds in a medium skillet set over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to heat and add the garlic cloves. Toast until lightly browned, turning as needed. Remove from heat and peel when cool.

  • 2

    In the bowl of a food processor, combine the kale, basil, pumpkin seeds, garlic, Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the olive oil in a slow stream with the food processor running and continue until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • 3

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta water.

    Return the pasta to the pot. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the pesto, then toss the pesto with the pasta. Add the remaining water as needed.

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Such a yummy, quick, pasta! Yum!

  • I love that this pesto has both kale AND basil so you get the basil flavor with the kale nutrition!

  • annieseats

    I love the idea of the pumpkin seeds in this!

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    I am a pesto lover. It is awesome that it keeps so well. Freezing it has been a boon for me. Guests come and I can thaw out some pesto. I am likin’ the pumpkin seeds in the mix. Very nice touch.

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    Looks delicious. I love pestos. The pasta really got well coated with the yummy sauce. Perfect.