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Perfect for busy weeknights or cozy date nights at home, I have my better half (or rather, his book obsession) to thank for bringing this Kale Pasta into my life.

Two white plates of Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan and a glass of white wine

Despite my occasional fantasies about selling our house and moving into a condo, due to Ben’s greatest vice, we’ll never actually be able to leave.

Ben has a serious (and thus-far incurable) book-buying addiction.

While I support Ben’s love of learning and admire the fact that he wants to read a biography of Benjamin Franklin in his free time (I’ll stick to perfecting the No Knead Focaccia in mine), the idea of attempting to transport these books to a new location makes my lower back quiver in fear.

Allow Ben within a square mile of Half Price Books, and he’s guaranteed to come home with an armful, which is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when we “happened upon” a Half Price Books while taking a new route home.

Ben left with four books; I treated myself to one: Giada’s Family Dinners.

Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan in a large stock pot with tongs

5 Star Review

“This is the most delicious way to use kale that I’ve come across. We had it last week and are having it again this week we liked it so much.”

— Linda —

I’ve scored some serious bargains, and my most recent purchase from Giada was no exception. It set me back $5.99 and is ripe with delicious Italian recipes. It’s also where I found the inspiration for today’s kale pasta.

In the “Family Style Pasta” section, I happened upon an enticing-looking recipe for Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino, so I decided to give it a go with a few alterations.

  • Instead of Swiss chard, I went for some equally nutritious kale since we had a ton to use up after our weekly trip to our local farmer’s market. (This Italian Chopped Salad, and Kale Soup are other great ways to use up extra kale.)
  • I passed on the pricey pine nuts, opting for wallet-friendly walnuts.
  • While I adore Pecorino Romano, I had a block of Parmesan I already had on hand.
  • Last, I tend to prefer a higher veggie-to-noodle ratio in my pasta dishes (see this Eggplant Pasta) than Giada uses, so I packed in a few other veggies that were lingering in my pantry.

The resulting dish was exceptionally pleasing, yet simple (like this Pasta al Limone). Ben, who is usually a red sauce-only pasta purist (this Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken is right up his alley), quickly inhaled his first helping and went back for seconds.

Two plates of whole wheat spaghetti with kale, caramelized onions, walnuts and Parmesan cheese

How to Make Kale Pasta

Tender kale, sweet caramelized onions, salty Parm, and crunchy walnuts come together with whole wheat spaghetti and a splash of white wine for a simple, healthy pasta dinner that’s ready in under 30-minutes.

The Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti. I love how the nuttiness of the whole wheat pasta enhances the flavors of the toasty walnuts. (This Garlic Pasta is another whole wheat pasta favorite.)
  • Kale. One of my all-time favorite nutrition powerhouses, kale is packed with vitamins A, K, B6, and C, plus calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  • Walnuts. Provide crunch and a dose of healthy fats, folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
  • Tomatoes. Canned diced tomatoes add moisture, flavor, and a bit of saltiness to the pasta.
  • Onions. Once caramelized, their sweetness balances the bitterness of the kale and acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Parmesan Cheese. has a naturally salty and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with walnuts and kale.
  • Garlic. An Italian pasta wouldn’t be complete with a clove (of four) of zesty garlic (ahem, Garlic Shrimp Pasta).
  • White Wine. Helps create a light, flavorful sauce that offers subtle acidity.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. For a little bit of heat.
A large plate of kale and walnut pasta with parmesan and tomatoes

The Directions

  1. Toast the walnuts until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain then set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a large skillet until tender. Add the kale and cook until it’s wilted.
  4. Next, toss in the garlic and add the tomatoes in their juices, wine, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer, until the tomatoes break down.
  6. Finally, add the cooked pasta, toss to combine, and serve. To finish, top each portion with toasted walnuts and Parmesan. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place leftover pasta in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm pasta in a large skillet over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
Walnut Kale Spaghetti with Parmesan and Caramelized Onions on white plates with forks

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Kale Taste Like?

Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable that has a strong, earthy flavor. It has a bitter taste that mellows slightly when cooked.

Is Kale Better than Spinach?

Both kale and spinach are healthy, low-calorie vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals. Where they differ is their nutritional composition. Kale offers nearly twice as much vitamin C as spinach and contains more calcium and vitamin K. On the other hand, spinach, contains more iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins A and E.

How Do You Know When Pasta is al Dente?

Al dente pasta should have a firm, slight chew to it. Pasta that is still crunchy is undercooked, while pasta that is mushy or gummy is overcooked.

Kale Pasta

4.65 from 14 votes
Healthy kale pasta with walnuts, caramelized onion, and Parmesan is a fast, easy vegetarian pasta recipe perfect for weeknights or date nights.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup walnut halves roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus additional for tossing with the pasta
  • 2 large red onions thinly sliced
  • 2-3 large bunches kale about 2 pounds, stems removed and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in their juices (14 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if sensitive to spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Heat a small, dry skillet with a thick bottom over medium-low. Once hot, add the walnuts, and toast them, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes (alternatively, you can toast them in a 300 degree F oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes, stirring twice). Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sliced onions and sauté until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kale and sauté for 4-5 minutes until it wilts. If it does not fit in the pot all at once, add by gradual handfuls, stir and allow it to wilt down, then add more. Once all of the kale is added and has softened a bit, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes in their juices, wine, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the kale is soft and the tomatoes break down; about 3-5 minutes. Remove lid and let any excess liquid cook off a bit so that the pasta isn’t too watery.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. Serve warm, topped with toasted walnuts and Parmesan.


  • TO STORE: Place leftover pasta in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm pasta in a large skillet over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.


Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 471kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 17gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 11mgPotassium: 524mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 357IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 231mgIron: 4mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I have been loving kale lately and I found this recipe while searching for new kale recipes.  It’s so good!!!  For real!  I love that it’s all common ingredients that everyone has at home and yet put them together and it turns into something magical!  Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I’ll definitely be making this again.5 stars

    1. Hi Sabrina! YAY! I’m so glad this recipe was a winner for you! Thank you SO much for leaving this awesome review! I really appreciate it. :)

  2. This is the most delicious way to use kale that I’ve come across.  We had it last week and are having again this week we liked it so much.  I left the Parmesan in a bowl so that our vegan daughter could eat it too.   I’ve been raving about the recipe all week!5 stars

  3. When I read this recipe I thought 2 large red onions sounded like waaaay too much onion so I looked in the comments to see if anyone had found this to be the case but no one had commented on it. I ended up using all the onion called for and I was right: it was way too much. Next time I will try it with 1 1/2 or even just 1 onion. I also ended up adding more cheese and red pepper flakes than called for. Otherwise, very tasty pasta and a great way too use the excess of kale I had!4 stars

    1. Hi Amanda! I’m happy to hear that you were able to enjoy the flavors in this dish! Thank you for taking the time to share this review!

    2. Not sure you’ll see this since it was so long ago….but you are the real MVP! I was also concerned that 2 onions was one too many!

  4. It doesn’t say where to use the kosher salt, unless I’m missing something. Are you using the kosher salt in the water used to boil the pasta? Or do you add it at a later time?

    1. Hi Shawn! You’ll add it in Step 3 just after stirring in the tomatoes. I hope you enjoy the dish!

  5. I gave 4 cause I tweeked the original recipe. Used half a head of garlic and chopped fresh roma tomatoes. Lacinato kale doesn’t need much cooking. Used grated parmasan and seperatly, grated romano. It was so good.4 stars

  6. Our garden is exploding with kale, so I’ve been on a quest to find new recipes. This was perfect! My husband (who doesn’t like walnuts very much) went back for seconds. I made a breaded pork chop along side. I had never tried whole wheat pasta; I’ll be trying it in other white wine pasta dishes in the future. Yum! Thank you!4 stars

  7. I had low expectations for this recipe but I had to use up some kale. What a surprise! My husband declared it “a keeper” and he didn’t even have the Parmesan on his plate because he doesn’t eat cheese. Except for the Parmesan on the side I followed the recipe exactly. It was tasty, filling and healthy too!5 stars

  8. This was delicious and super easy to make! This will be a go to dish for us on busy week nights. Added extra parm and red pepper flakes. Very yummy!5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa, I didn’t measure it, so I really do not know. Reading online there is a lot of conflicting information about it. I would start with two cups then eye ball it to see how much it looks and if you need to add more or not. Enjoy!