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Kale Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Active time 20 mins
Total time 20 mins

Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

Making pesto out of leafy greens is a great way to pack lots of veggies into each serving of pasta. While traditional pesto uses basil, a kale pesto is equally hearty and fresh, plus it's loaded with antioxidants and protein. Make the pesto in advance if you're short on time and store it in the refrigerator, although it's best eaten the day of.  


  • 8 ounces uncooked whole-grain penne pasta
  • 12 ounces medium peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 4 ounces baby kale
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Nutrition Information

  • calories 472
  • fat 21.7 g
  • satfat 4.2 g
  • monofat 12.7 g
  • polyfat 2.9 g
  • protein 24 g
  • carbohydrate 46 g
  • fiber 8 g
  • cholesterol 114 mg
  • iron 3 mg
  • sodium 575 mg
  • calcium 241 mg
  • sugars 1 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g

How to Make It

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add shrimp to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 cup pasta cooking liquid. Place pasta mixture in a bowl.

  2. Place almonds, rind, kale, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add reserved 2/3 cup pasta cooking liquid, salt, red pepper, black pepper, and 3 tablespoons cheese; pulse until smooth. With food processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth.

  3. Add kale mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.