Despite my occasional fantasies about selling our house and moving into a condo (all of which coincide with afternoons dedicated to yardwork), due to Ben’s greatest vice, we’ll never actually be able to leave. At the same time I mourn the loss of my hypothetical yardwork-free life, however, I owe his habit a debt of gratitude for bringing today’s Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan into my life.

Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan. A quick and healthy one-pan dinner!

Ben has a serious and thus-far incurable book-buying addiction. I realize that it sounds ridiculous to deem the purchase of literature a “vice,” but the six full-sized bookshelves—all of which are packed to the brim with books both stacked upright and crammed horizontally on top of existing rows—would suggest otherwise.

While I support Ben’s love of learning and admire the fact that he wants to read a biography on Benjamin Franklin in his free time, the idea of attempting to transport these books to a new location makes my lower back quiver in fear. I’ve gently (and not so gently) suggested that he purchase a Kindle to save shelf space, to which he insists, “it’s not the same,” and, “I’d miss the feel of a book in my hands.” To that I say, “we’re hiring movers.”

I know that I have my habits too—I can’t pass a cheese counter or wine rack without tossing a few finds into my cart—but in my defense, my impulse buys have a shelf life. 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

Used bookstores are cookbook treasure troves. While Ben pours over the biography and economics sections, I scour the top shelves for prized copies at rock-bottom prices. From America’s Test Kitchen to my favorite celebrity chefs, I’ve scored some serious bargains, and my most recent purchase from Giada was no exception. It set me back $5.99 and is where I found the inspiration for today’s kale pasta.

I don’t know that I’d reach for this book for a quick weeknight dinner the way I do Mark Bittman, but for occasions when I want something more decadent or am seeking new ideas for pasta combinations, it’s perfect. 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.

Kale Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Walnuts and Parmesan

The Best Vegetarian Kale Pasta Recipe

Giada’s original recipe called for chard, pine nuts, and Pecorino Romano cheese, but I swapped the beautiful kale I found at the farmer’s market, wallet-friendly walnuts, and the block of Parmesan I already had on hand. I also tend to prefer a higher veggie-to-noodle ratio in my pasta dishes than Giada uses, so I played around with the other ingredients to ensure I had a little bite of greens, nuts, and cheese with every twirl of spaghetti. The original recipe also called for olives, but I opted to leave them out to allow the flavor of the walnuts and Parmesan to truly shine.

The resulting dish was exceptionally pleasing. I loved the rich toastiness and crunch the walnuts added, the light acidity of the wine, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions. Ben, who is usually a red sauce-only pasta purist, quickly inhaled his first helping and went back for seconds.

Kale and Walnut Pasta with Parmesan

How to Store Kale Pasta with Walnuts

  • 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.

More Simple Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Walnut Kale Pasta with Parmesan and Caramelized Onions

Maybe we should stop into Half Price Books more often. After all, when you already have six bookshelves, what’s one more?

Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan. A quick and healthy one-pan dinner!

Kale Pasta with Walnuts and Parmesan

4.67 from 3 votes
A fast and flavorful kale pasta with white wine, walnuts, and Parmesan. Beautiful, healthy, and perfect for family dinner or date night.

Total: 30 mins

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 ¼ 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 through out). 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 ½ tablespoons olive oil 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 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 softed 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.

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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. Kale is very new here in Greece (the demand, thanx to the power of the Internet led some first imports in the last months) and we’re always looking out for great recipes for it. This is one definitely hits the spot, it has great texture and it’s super healthy! 
    Thank you for the yummy recipe!

  2. 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.

    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. :)

  3. This is one I will try. Looks great, sounds great. Lot of chitter chat before you get the recipe and nice photos but hey I love books too. No denying that lol.

    1. I hope you love it, Brenda! (P.S. If you’re ever referring back to the post to just find the recipe, there’s a “Jump to Recipe” button right below the post title that’ll take you straight there.)

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

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