Inspired living

Kale Pesto Penne Recipe

Healthy and Gluten-free Kale Pesto Penne Recipe

Credit: Georgia Harding

I developed this dish out of wanting to include the nourishing stems of the kale in a meal. I often save them to add to bone broth, but I wanted another option, so this delicious, nutritious pasta dish was born: Kale Pesto Penne.

Serves: 4 as a side



  • 4–5 large stems curly kale, washed well
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 50g (approx.) parmesan cheese, roughly diced
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted
  • Big handful basil leaves
  • Juice & zest 1 small lemon
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 250g rice quinoa penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp water
  1. Start by stripping leaves off kale stems, tearing into small pieces and finely chopping remaining kale stems.
  2. Bring 2 cups water to boil in large pot and boil chopped stems (not leaves) for 5 mins (or until softened). Drain and set aside.
  3. Refill pot with water and bring to boil. Once boiling, cook penne until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, make pesto: in food processor, chop garlic. Add parmesan and process until finely grated. Add half of almonds and pulse until finely chopped.
  5. Add basil, cooked kale stems, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and pepper and pulse until it forms coarse pesto.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, strain and return pan to moderate heat. Add extra 2 tbsp olive oil and water then add kale leaves. Sauté, stirring constantly until just wilted (but not browned).
  7. Once wilted, return pasta, pesto and remaining toasted almonds to pot and stir to combine over low heat.
  8. Serve immediately.
  9. Tip: For omnivores, you can also add cooked chicken or tuna. To make it vegan (and dairy-free), replace parmesan with nutritional yeast.


Georgia Harding

Georgia Harding is a naturopath with almost 20 years experience, a mother and a passionate health educator. After many years consulting in a busy practice, lecturing in natural medicine and sharing her knowledge on talkback radio, Georgia decided to reach out and share her passion for holistic health by developing her blog, Well Nourished.
On her website, she shares fad-free health advice and intolerance/allergy-friendly recipes to inspire people to live happy, healthy lives and create delicious food memories.

Georgia’s ebook Rise and Shine: A Well Nourished Breakfast will inspire and guide you to prepare the most important meal of the day in just minutes. Her latest ebook The Well Nourished Lunch Box contains over 50 nut-free, allergy-friendly wholefood sweet and savoury snacks, lunches and meals to inspire you to pack a nourishing lunch box that your kids will love to eat and you will love to make.