Pasta

Healthy Pesto Pasta Sauce With Cavolo Nero & Fusilli

Healthy pesto pasta sauce made with cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) and giant fusilli pasta. It’s a super easy, filling and healthy dinner recipe to start the New Year with.

This cavolo nero pesto is so simple to make and packs a punch of flavour. Use it as a pesto pasta sauce or spooned over roasted veggies or salads. I love it with giant, jumbo-sized fusilli pasta and a sprinkling of flaked almonds for an added bit of texture and crunch.

Pesto pasta sauce made with cavolo nero in a white bowl on a wooden surface

Pesto is my love.

From the classic and unbeatable basil pesto to the sun-dried varieties it basically makes anything taste good, right?

And now that the festivities are sadly (very sadly) over it’s that time where everyone gets their health kick heads on to start the year off feeling good and healthy about themselves. I personally don’t do detoxes or diets. I just can’t stick to them and being made to eat things I don’t particularly want to just instantly makes me want to run towards the cheese!

Chia overnight oats?

I’d have one spoonful and then I’d be dreaming of grilling, hot, melting, bubbling cheese on a crusty slice of rustic bread.

Trust me, I’ve tried.

So this pesto pasta sauce recipe is my way of starting the year off right using a beautiful cavolo nero pesto. For me it’s healthy (if you don’t go back for seconds I suppose), filling, super simple and easy to whip up.

PLUS you can even have a fresh side salad to go with it if you like.

How To Make Healthy Pesto Pasta Sauce With Cavolo Nero

Wash the cavolo nero to remove any dirt then blanch in a pot of boiling water for around 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water then squeeze as much water out as possible.

Tip: Use a salad spinner to squeeze the water out or place the cavolo nero in a clean tea towel, pinch the four corners together and shake the water out.

Make sure to remove any larger, chunky stalks from the cavolo nero then add it to a food processor with freshly grated parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

Blitz to a thick paste adding 2 tablespoons of water while the motor is running to loosen (more water will be added later).

Step by step photos for making pesto pasta sauce

When you’re ready to make the pasta, boil it in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente (follow packet instructions).

Reserve 2 cups of pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add it back to the hot pot. Add a couple spoonful of cavolo nero pesto to the pasta and gradually add the reserved pasta water until it coats the pasta evenly.

Tip: You won’t need all the water. Add more pesto to your liking and adjust the texture with more pasta water.

Serve in bowls and top with flaked almonds, enjoy!

A close up of pesto pasta sauce with fusilli pasta in a white bowl

If you’ve tried this cavolo nero pesto pasta sauce or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Healthy Pesto Pasta Sauce With Cavolo Nero and Fusilli

Healthy pesto pasta sauce made with cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) and giant fusilli pasta. It's a super easy, filling and healthy dinner recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 420kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 10.5 oz (300g) raw cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale)
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 11.2 oz (320g) giant fusilli pasta
  • flaked almonds , for topping

Instructions

  • Wash the cavolo nero in cold running water to remove any dirt then blanch in a pot of boiling water for around 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water then squeeze as much water out as possible. *See note 1
  • Make sure to remove any larger, chunky stalks from the cavolo nero then add it to a food processor with freshly grated parmesan, pine nuts, garlic peeled but still whole, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
  • Blitz to a thick paste adding 2 tbsp of water while the motor is running to loosen (water will be added later).
  • When you're ready to make the pasta, boil it in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente (follow packet instructions).
  • Reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
  • Drain the pasta and add it back to the hot pot. Add a couple spoonful of cavolo nero pesto to the pasta and gradually add the reserved pasta water until it coats the pasta evenly. *see note 2.
  • Serve in bowls and top with flaked almonds.

Notes

  • (1) 200g (7 oz) cooked weight of cavolo nero
  • Use a salad spinner to squeeze the water out or place the cavolo nero in a clean tea towel, pinch the four corners together and shake the water out.
  • (2) You won't need all the water. Add more pesto to your liking and adjust the texture with more pasta water.
  • To make this dish healthier use wholegrain pasta.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Healthy Pesto Pasta Sauce With Cavolo Nero and Fusilli
Amount Per Serving
Calories 420
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Helpful Info For All Recipes 
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
  • Read more about how the nutritional information is calculated here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

Newsletter

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Marlee
    January 8, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    This is such a gorgeous recipe, I am definitely wanting to try this!

  • Reply
    Luci
    January 4, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Very simple yet really tasty recipe. I will have to do these soon.

  • Reply
    Edyta at Innocent Delight
    January 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    I love the idea of using kale in this pesto recipe. I need to try it. And the color is amazing. I can bet it tastes great too.

  • Reply
    Joyce
    January 3, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I LOVE pesto and I swear I put it on everything and this recipe is so fantastic since I am a bit short on basil now that our winters are in full blast (and they are super expensive at the stores at this time of year). I also had no idea they made fusilli in giant form! This is fantastic I need to find this pasta! 😀

  • Reply
    Amy @ Little Dairy on the Prairie
    January 3, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    This looks so good! Great lunch option in my book!

  • Reply
    Marie - Not Enough Cinnamon
    January 3, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    ooh I’m so obsessed with Italy too! I used to go there multiple times a year when I was still living in France – it feels like my second home 🙂 And of course, I’m obsessed with pesto too. I could eat some every day I wouldn’t mind. This big bowl of pasta sounds sooo delish!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.