Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

One of my favorite things about late spring is planting our little garden. It’s nothing impressive, actually it’s crammed into our one and only planter in the front of our house… but it works! Last year we had endless amounts of basil. We kept picking it & using it, and it kept growing back until early October when it finally froze. We made pesto at least 2x a week, and now that our plant is growing again, we’re back at it!

Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

This time I wanted to do something a little different and incorporate a few other greens into the mix. Kale & spinach are blended along with basil to make a thick, creamy, flavorful sauce that bakes up beautifully when tossed with pasta and topped with a handful of salty shaved cheese.

Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

I also swapped out our usual walnuts for toasted pistachios. It just seemed like the obvious choice for such a green sauce 🙂

Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

When the pasta was done cooking, I stirred in a bit of the water to thin out the sauce (that way I didn’t have to use a ton of olive oil) and then tossed everything together. Speaking of pasta, I love using big noodles, that way it traps some of the sauce inside. I’d suggest penne, rigatoni or even fusilli. You can even use whole wheat or gluten-free!

Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

Then I poured the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, topped it with a combo of shaved parmesan and pecorino and baked it for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese was nice and melty (side note: usually pesto doesn’t need to be heated, but I wanted the cheese to be melty & kale is healthier/better for you when it’s cooked).

Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta

We served ours up with grilled chicken and salad. It was so easy to make and was delicious as leftovers the following day. If you’re looking for a way to use up a handful or two of fresh basil, you’ve gotta give this baked pasta dish a try!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Kale, Spinach and Basil Pesto Baked Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This kale, spinach and basil pesto baked pasta is lean, green and healthy. It's the perfect pasta dish for spring and summer!
Author:
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. penne or rigatoni (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free)
  • ¼-1/3 c. reserved pasta water

  • 1 c. packed spinach
  • 1 c. packed kale
  • 2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ c. toasted pistachios or pine nuts, walnuts, pecans
  • ½ c. extra-virgin olive oil + more if needed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small lemon, juiced
  • ½ c. grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

  • ⅓ c. shaved parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package's instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large food processor or blender, layer the ingredients starting with the spinach, kale, basil, then the garlic, toasted nuts, the olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and cheese. If the mixture is too thick to blend add a tablespoon or two more of olive oil. Continue to pulse/blend until smooth.
  4. When the pasta is done cooking, drain the water, reserving ⅓ c. of the water. Mix it in with the prepared pesto until the sauce is loose.
  5. Toss the cooked pasta with the pesto, then pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with ⅓ c. cheese, then place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Remove and serve immediately.
Notes
-Grilled chicken makes a great addition to this bake, you could also and halved cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes.


Recipe source: inspired by Pinch of Yum

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About the Author

Natalie

Wife, mother, baker and photographer. Recipe developer & author of Life Made Simple. A self-professed peanut butter lover and fond of anything that involves pumpkin, cookie dough, or sprinkles

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Comments:

  1. Can the pesto be stored for a few days in fridge before using with pasta? Or can I separate it into two batches, using some now and some another week?

    1. I’ve stored it for a few days, I wouldn’t add the water until you’re ready to use it. Just cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil and keep it in an airtight container.

  2. Hi Natalie! you just gave me the perfect idea for mondays lunch!!

    Im currently in the process of opening muy own food blog in Mexico… would you mind to share with me the plugin that you use for the recepies? they look so great!

    Thank you! love your work!

  3. I did this as a cold pasta and pesto dish. I mistakenly put too much lemon, and it made it absolutely delicious. I used fresh basil from my organic basil plant and didn’t use any nuts. I let it sit overnight in the fridge and all the flavors meshed. I also used gluten free pene and sprinkled with fresh parmesan before serving. I couldn’t believe my husband would eat it , let alone have a second bowl! Thanks.. it was delicious. I will definitely make it again.

  4. 5 stars
    OH MY 😭 This is SO DELICIOUS! Definitely adding it to my list of regular meals. Husband loved it too, we couldn’t stop eating. Didn’t have kale so I used double the spinach. Thank you!