Traditional recipes

Rigatoni with Kale Pesto

Rigatoni with Kale Pesto

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Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 cup)

Whole-wheat pasta would be a tasty option here, complementing the earthy flavor of kale. Beyond tenderizing the kale, a quick blanch helps preserve its deep-green color in the pesto, even as it coats hot pasta. Pecorino cheese is a little more pungent than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so it stands up nicely to the kale. We love the bright floral note the lemon rind adds to the pesto.


  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon rind
  • 2 ounces fresh pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 424
  • Fat 23.2g
  • Satfat 4.7g
  • Monofat 14.4g
  • Polyfat 1.7g
  • Protein 10g
  • Carbohydrate 44g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Cholesterol 8mg
  • Iron 2mg
  • Sodium 508mg
  • Calcium 100mg
  • Sugars 3g
  • Est. added sugars g

How to Make It

Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Working in two or three batches, submerge kale in boiling water for 15 seconds until wilted and deep green; remove, and immediately plunge into ice water for 15 seconds. Drain kale well; place on layers of paper towels, and press to remove excess liquid. Place kale, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Slowly add oil with motor running; blend until pesto is smooth. Place pesto in a medium bowl; stir in rind, cheese, salt, and peppers.

Step 2

Cook pasta according to package instructions, omitting salt and fat. When pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan over medium-low heat; stir in pesto. Add pasta cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce reaches desired consistency.

Watch the video: Rigatoni with Pesto. Byron Talbott