Whole Wheat Pasta with Garlicky Kale Pesto


SourceAdapted from Melissa Clark
Prep time30 minutes
Cooking time30 minutes
Total time1 hour


This recipe was inspired by a Melissa Clark column from the New York Times. We have shortened the original considerably by not cooking the kale before turning it into a bright, sharp pesto, perfect with the whole wheat pasta. Adapt the dish to your taste, adding more cheese, garlic or olive oil as you like.


2 cloves
2 tablespoons
lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
black pepper
1 bunch
3/4 cup
olive oil
1/2 cup
cheese, parmesan (grated)
1 pound
pasta, whole wheat
sweet potato (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1/2 cup
walnuts (chopped)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the cubed sweet potato pieces onto a baking sheet and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes or until you can push a fork through the sweet potato pieces and they are slightly browning. 
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente; drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta’s cooking water.
In a food processor, place the garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; pulse to form a thick paste. Working in small batches, add the kale and pulse until finely chopped, using a spatula or spoon to wipe down the sides of the processor bowl as needed. 
Slowly add the pasta cooking water to the kale mixture and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle the additional ½ cup of olive oil into the processor. Add the cheese, starting with ½ cup and taste for seasoning and add more if you like. At this point, you can tweak the flavor by adding more cheese, lemon juice or salt. For a looser pesto, add more olive oil, one tablespoon at a time.
In a large bowl, toss pesto with pasta and sweet potato and serve with grated cheese.