Kale Garlic Pasta with Parmesan

kale garlic pasta with parmesan

The last week and a half has been incredibly busy. I’m in the middle of midterms-and-papers-and-readings season. I spend my mornings in class and my afternoons studying. The to-do list is never exhausted, and it’s a rare day when everything I set out to do is accomplished before midnight. On days like these, what breaks the monotony is coming home for lunch. I love cooking something satisfying in the middle of my day. I get to leave behind whatever I’ve been studying for a little while, and return to my work refreshed. 


The requirements are for the dish I choose to make are strict. It must be something that I can make in 30 minutes or less, but it must also be hearty enough to pull me through the afternoon.

This kale pasta does just that, and I made it twice last week alone. Crisp and bitter kale is paired with rich, buttery pasta. Salty, savory, and satisfying enough for a midday meal. I imagine it would make a great quick dinner, too.

kale and parmesan

Start with fresh kale. I used a curly-leaved kale, but I imagine this works well with other varieties, too. And remember, freshly grated cheese is essential.

pasta shells

Boil some pasta. I used shells, but any dry pasta about this size will do. I like Barilla for its texture, and how it cooks consistently every time.

garlic in melted butter

Warm the garlic in the melted butter, careful not to burn it. This is where all of the magical flavor comes from.

kale added to pan

Add all of your kale to the hot pan.

cooked kale with garlic

Cook the kale until the leaves are wilted and tender. It should still have a little crunch to it.

toss kale with pasta

Toss your pasta and kale together, adding more butter and some of the pasta water.

topped with parmesan

Top with freshly grated cheese. I like parmesan, but pecorino romano could also work well here.

seasoned with black pepper

Use black pepper, not crushed red pepper, if you’d like to add some spice, since red pepper will overwhelm the other flavors in this dish.

kale garlic pasta with parmesan

And that’s it! If you chop the vegetables and grate the cheese as the water is coming to a boil, and sauté the kale while the pasta’s cooking, this meal can be pulled together in under 20 minutes.

Kale Garlic Pasta with Parmesan
serves 4


4-6 tablespoons butter
2  large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium bunch of kale, cut into 1-inch stips
3 cups pasta shells (or other pasta shape)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
sea salt, to taste


  1. Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions.
  2. Melt three tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic cloves, and warm until fragrant.
  3. Add chopped kale and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook kale, flipping over with a spatula or tongs to keep it evenly coated in butter and garlic, and ensure that garlic doesn’t burn. When the kale is tender with crunchy stems and reduced to about half its original volume, remove from heat.
  4. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a half cup of pasta water. Return the kale to low heat and add pasta. Dot with one or two more tablespoons of butter. Add pasta water one tablespoon at a time, stirring, until butter sauce is desired consistency. Season with salt. Remove from heat.
  5. Top hot pasta with cheese just before serving. Season with ground black pepper if desired.

2 thoughts on “Kale Garlic Pasta with Parmesan”

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