Conchiglie Pasta With Kale Pesto

I’m back after almost a month and if it’s any comfort, I’ve missed you just as much as you’ve missed me. Part of the reason for my absence was that Desi and I were traveling. We flew up to the west coast and then made our way from San Francisco up through Portland, Seattle and finally Vancouver in Canada. Along the way we stopped at the state capitols in Sacramento, Salem, and Olympia (have I told you Desi loves to see statehouses?)

It was a hectic trip and we packed in a lot, but it was also exhilarating, as travel always is. We drove through curvy mountain roads flanked by snow-covered evergreens, and past breathtaking volcanic peaks like California’s Mount Shasta and Washington’s Mount Rainier. We walked in the misty rain in Portland without umbrellas (like true Portlanders, we’re told), bought food from the city’s famed vegan food carts, and I discovered I have a sweet tooth after all at the quirky Voodoo Donuts. We went up the space needle in Seattle and took pictures of tourists posing inside the first Starbucks at Pike Place. And even pouring rain could not keep us from joining hundreds of Vancouverites exploring the night life on buzzing Granville Street on a Friday evening.

I tried to keep up with your messages and emails through all this as best as I could, but if I was slow in getting back to you, you now know why.

I’ve been a little slow to get back to cooking too (cooking new stuff, that is), so I haven’t had a whole lot to share. But last night, looking for a quick recipe that I could brown-bag for Desi, I came upon a Kale Pesto on Rachel Ray’s website. I loved the sound of it, and I almost always have kale in my refrigerator (like any good vegan), so I decided to give it a try.

I followed my own pesto recipe, except for swapping the herb (or spinach, which I use sometimes) with kale. The kale needs a small amount of cooking, so keep that in mind as you plan. It’s not a ton of time– you just need to dunk the kale in boiling water and let it cook away for five minutes. And since you can use the same water to boil your pasta, it’s no additional trouble at all.

I have more to share, and I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a quick, nutritious, delicious weeknight supper or a light weekend lunch, give this a try. Ciao!

Conchiglie Pasta with Kale-Walnut Pesto


1 24-oz box of small pasta. (I used whole-wheat conchiglie which are tiny, adorable, shell-shaped pasta)

A small bunch of asparagus spears, tough ends removed, then cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch pieces (store the tough ends for vegetable stock).

1 tsp red pepper flakes

8 large leaves of kale, tough stems removed

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (this is easy to do in the microwave. Spread the walnuts in a plate and microwave on high for a minute. Toss them around, then microwave for another minute)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 heaping tbsp white miso

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of one large lemon

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in the kale leaves. Bring the water back to a boil and let the kale leaves cook for five minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs, fish out the kale leaves and set them aside. Bring the water to a boil again and add your pasta.

About five minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the chopped asparagus.

Meanwhile, assemble the pesto. Place the cooked kale, 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts, nutritional yeast, miso, garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender.

Process into a paste. I processed mine pretty smooth this time, but you can leave it coarse if you like your pesto that way. The jewel-green color of this sauce has to be seen to be believed– it’s just gorgeous.

Mix the pesto, cooked pasta and asparagus, lemon juice, and remaining walnuts in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    The pasta looks delicious and your trip sounds equally delicious. I’m more of an armchair traveler so I enjoyed reading about your vacation.

    I bet the furry ones missed you!!

    • says

      Hi Nupur, yeah, they make us feel like the Beatles when we get back! And of course dropping them off at the daycare is the most heartbreaking part of any trip. But I figure we all need a break sometimes. :)

  2. says

    What a beautiful contrast the tomato creates! Loved the dramatic effect and of course the pasta.
    I have never tried nutritional yeast, maybe I should.
    Will u also post some pictures of ur travel? Would love to see them :)

  3. says

    Nooooo.. you know where i live.. i am like 3 blocks from the needle and 7 from that starbucks in seattle.. Next time you are here, you have to tell me!!! I would love to bug you for atleast a few minutes.. probably also make you some goodies!:)

    love that pesto color.. i was just thinking of using kale for something else!

    • says

      Hi Richa, I’d have loved to meet you, but we were on a madly hectic schedule. Loved your city, so I’m sure I’ll be back. Or perhaps you can make a trip to our Washington. :)

  4. Rajendra Yadav says

    Wow. I love pastas with pesto. That was my first food in Papua New Guinea on my first night there. That one had basil. I will try with spinach today because my wife does not like the basil of Cambodia.

  5. says

    Welcome back Vaishali! I cannot pronounce conchiglie and I have no clue what kale leaves are in Hindi or if you even find them in India, but that doesnt stop me from admiring the beautiful shapes and colours of this pasta dish 😀

  6. hannah says

    i love how even though we try and convince ourselves we don’t need sugar (and no, we don’t “need” it), our bodies are programmed to love the stuff. And every once in a while just makes it more special! Glad you had a break and a treat! (but even more glad you’re back!)

  7. says

    This sounds fantastic! I don’t know that I’ve ever tried pesto made from kale but I also love that there is asparagus in there! makes it such a vibrant green. Glad you’re back and it sounds like you had a nice trip.

  8. says


    Welcome back, we sure missed you. Sounds like a fun and hectic trip! Next time, you’re in California, and have less hectic schedule, stop by.

    I can understand sometimes right after hectic vacation, I need another small break too. I love pesto and use pesto in many thing, including sandwiches, salad and of course pasta. I have started using walnuts and spinach for making pesto lately and it works well too.


  9. Anonymous says

    Just found your blog. I love the idea of Kale Pesto, Super nutritious. I am allergic to soy so I will leave out the Miso.
    Susan From Vancouver, B.C.

  10. says

    Vaishali…you were in my favoritest city of all, Seattle! I’ll be there in less than a month so next time, you, Richa and I have to get together! And I’ll buy you all free soy lattes at the Pike Place Starbucks with my “inside connections”!!! Am so looking forward to moving back especially cos then I can make all your super recipes without having to find substitutions for each and everything!!! Yay!

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