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Vegan Kale & Toasted Walnut Pesto

We have been loving all the fresh herbs coming from our Aero Garden this winter.  This recipe was created to use all the extra basil we have!  While not a traditional pesto with pine nuts and parmesan cheese, it definitely gets the flavor profile across.  And the spiciness from all the raw garlic was perfect with the pasta.

I used whole wheat penne for this because its what we had in the pantry, but I would like to try this with other kinds in the future (rotini, orechetti, radiatore, etc).

Vegan Kale & Toasted Walnut Pesto
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: Makes 6


For the Pasta

  • 16 ounces (or 1 box) Whole Wheat Penne, sub gluten free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped kale

For the Pesto

  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cupExtra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup water
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset


To Make The Pasta

  1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. In another large saucepan, toast the walnuts about 5 minutes until they warm and begin brown around the edges.  Turn off heat and transfer nuts to a cutting board.
  3. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and frozen peas about 10 minutes until they are nice and soft.  Season with some salt and pepper.  Add 1 cup of the chopped kale and stir until its wilted (about 5 minutes) and all veggies are soft.

To Make The Sauce

  1. In the food processor combine 2 cups kale, fresh basil, fresh parsley, garlic, and toasted walnuts from above.  Pulse on high, and stream in the olive oil while the pesto is mixing. 
  2. Do a little taste test, and if the pesto needs a smoother consistency, then pulse again and slowly add in the water.  I added about 1/4 cup.
  3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and add it to the saucepan with the mushrooms, tomatoes, and kale.  Then fold in 1 cup of pesto and mix!  I finished it with a little garlic salt this time.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This recipe made about 2 cups of pesto, so I had a whole extra cup of liquid gold…. which I plan to enjoy for dinner again tonight!  Maybe with a different shape of pasta and a sautéed zucchini.


Posted in Dinners, Favorites, Gluten Free, Sauces

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