Cook with Metrolink: Kale Pesto Pasta

Looking for something new to try in the kitchen? Let us highlight an easy recipe from Celebrity Chef Carla Hall (Top Chef, The Chew, Halloween Baking Challenge): Kale Pesto Pasta.

Some people have a love-hate relationship with kale. Are you one of them? It has an herbaceous, bitter flavor that can be easily brightened by a touch of acidity from vinegar or lemons. In springtime, kale can be a little less bitter, due to warm days and cool nights, not to mention having a beautiful bright green color. The addition of sauteed lemons to this pasta provides a little extra pucker and a crunchy caramelized element, making for a perfectly healthy balanced dish.

Serves 4.


1 bunch fresh kale, stems removed (you should have about 2 cups of the kale leaves)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti or pasta of your choice, cooked until al dente
1 whole lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Red chile flakes for garnish (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese or toasted bread crumbs for garnish (optional)


To make the pesto: place the kale leaves, lemon zest, garlic cloves, and red chile flakes into a food processor and pulse several times until the kale leaves are chopped smaller and the ingredients are combined. While the food processor is running, add the lemon juice and then the olive oil in a thin stream, until you have a slightly loose purée. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sauteed lemons: Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the lemon slices, turning occasionally until they are browned on both sides and crispy. Remove to drain on a paper towel and sprinkle a little Kosher salt over the slices.

Mix the pesto with the hot cooked pasta until the pasta is completely coasted in the pesto. To serve, place about a cup of pasta into an individual serving bowl or on a plate, top with a few slices of fried lemon, and sprinkle with the additional red chile flakes and the Parmesan cheese or toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

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