9 February 2020

Kale Pesto Pasta

Despite being posted almost 5 years ago now my one pot cheesy broccoli pasta continues to be a firm favourite of this blog. This isn't quite one pot, but it is one pot, plus one blender (or food processor), for a delicious, everyday pasta dish ready in under 15 minutes. Creamy, yet bright vegan pesto pasta made with black kale, parsley and hemp seeds, with broccoli and cannellini beans.

It's the best of both worlds - healthy and comfort food and you needn't worry about it tasting too green - it's fresh, vibrant, a little garlicky and creamy too. It's packed full of the good stuff and will soon become one of those meals on your rotating menu of dishes - the ones you have up your sleeve for weeknights, that you can feel good about, knowing you're nourishing yourself and also enjoy your bowl of comfort, letting you put your feet up as soon as possible.

I personally love kale, it's one of my all-time favourite veg, my ultimate way to enjoy it is to coat in a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt and roast until crisp. Here I used black kale, or cavlo nero, but curly kale is good too and really, any greens in a meal and I'm sold. This is a low-effort way to pack in the goodness, without having to chomp through a load of kale and it's also great for fussy kids who might not be so eager to enjoy their leafy greens - chances are they've had pesto before, so the green colour shouldn't freak them out and they won't even know the kale is there! But, if making for kids you'll likely need to reduce the amount of salt you add accordingly.

I like my pesto pasta a little more saucy than typical pesto and the great thing about this sauce is that it's loaded with goodness. Kale is absolutely packed with vitamin K - needed for blood clotting, vitamin A - for bones, teeth, soft tissue and good eyesight too, vitamin C - which promotes iron absorption, supports the immune system and is an antioxidant, protecting cells from oxidative damage. It also delivers a healthy amount of iron, calcium, potassium and small amounts of many vitamins and minerals. I use wholewheat pasta here too, whole grains are super important for our digestive system and our general health, helping to reduce non-communicable diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There are so many other good things packed into this dish too - like hemp seeds, cannellini beans and broccoli too. For more info on the nutrition benefits these ingredients pack in, have a read of my vegan nutrition guide, here.

Click here for printer-friendly version

Kale Pesto Pasta | Serves: 4 | Time: 15 mins

You'll need

  • Large saucepan
  • Tongs/slotted spoon
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Measuring cups + spoons
  • Blender/food processor
  • Spatula
  • Colander
  • Large bowl


  • 200g sliced black kale (stems are ok)
  • 35g vegan parm (in a block)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Large handful parsley
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups wholewheat fusilli pasta
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 head broccoli
  • Salt
  • Black pepper 
  • Chili flakes (optional)


  1. Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, add the parm and the garlic to the blender and blitz until no lumps remain. 
  3. Add the kale to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, then using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to the blender, don't worry if some cooking water comes too as you'll be adding some later anyway. Place the blender to one side and allow to cool slightly whilst the pasta is cooking.
  4. Add the pasta to the water and cook until just al dente (8-10 minutes). Then chop the broccoli into florets and a few minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the florets into the pasta water, along with a drained can of cannellini beans. Once cooked, place a colander over a large bowl and drain into the bowl, reserving the pasta water.
  5. Just before the pasta is finished, into the blender, add the hemp seeds, lemon juice, parsley and olive oil and blitz until you have a mostly smooth sauce, with all the components mixed in. 
  6. Transfer the pasta, broccoli and beans back to the saucepan (off the heat), stir in the pesto and mix in the extra pasta water a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. As a guide, you'll need about 1-2 cups of pasta water and as it sits it will absorb more liquid. Add a little black pepper, taste for seasoning and add a pinch more salt or a splash more lemon as required. 
  7. Serve into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a crack of black pepper and a pinch of chili flakes and enjoy!
Cassidy xx