This nut-free vegan kale pesto pasta is a quick and easy veggie-packed meal and a perfect dish to feed a family.

Close up of vegan kale pesto pasta in a bowl with a candle and chili flakes.

Nothing says spring and summer to me quite like pesto. It is something we love to have on hand to add to soups, top pizza with, or stir into a hummus or salad dressing. But the classic combo of pesto and pasta can't be beaten. While classic pesto is made with basil, parmesan, and pine nuts, this vegan pesto is made with kale, hemp hearts, and nutritional yeast—making for a delicious dairy-free and nut-free version.

Vegan kale pesto pasta is one of our favourite quick and easy lunches or dinners—and perfect for leftovers! It packs a lot of veggies (1 bunch of kale and a couple of heads of broccoli) plus utilizes lots of pantry staples like canned beans, pasta, oil, seeds, and nutritional yeast. The best part of this pasta is its versatility and ability to adapt to whatever you have on hand and your family's preferences.

Kale growing in garden
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Ingredients like hemp hearts, pasta, kale, and nutritional yeast in bowls.

Ingredients

  • kale
  • hemp hearts
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • nutritional yeast
  • lemon juice
  • sea salt
  • broccoli
  • pasta
  • chickpeas
Close up pf kale and past for vegan kale pesto pasta

Method

This pasta is a great and simple recipe to make on any weeknight. To make the pesto, simply remove the kale from its stems and blanch the leaves in hot water. After the leaves have cooled, given them a good squeeze to remove any excess water. Then combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

You can make the pesto a few days in advance or even make a big batch of it and freeze it in an ice cube tray for easy access.

To make the pasta, char some broccoli in a pan (I like cast iron) then toss with some rinsed and canned chickpeas until they are warmed. Then cook your pasta and toss the cooked pasta with the charred broccoli and pesto

Garnished the vegan kale pesto pasta with hemp hearts, chili flakes and nutritional yeast.

Close up of kale pesto in a Weck jar

Tips and Notes

If you don't have kale, feel free to use my what-ever-you-have pesto recipe. This dish can easily be doubled if you have a large family or like to have leftovers for lucges the next day.

Substitutions

  • If you don't have hemp hearts try sunflower seeds
  • Add a handful of cilantro, basil, or parsley of you have it
  • You can sub a little garlic powder if you can't do fresh garlic
  • Other beans like cannellini will work instead of chickpeas
  • Use romesco, cauliflower, or rapini if you don't have broccoli
  • Add extra veggies like frozen peas!

Other Pesto Recipes

Close up of vegan kale pesto pasta in a bowl.

Recipe

Close up of vegan kale pesto pasta in a bowl with a candle and chili flakes.
Print Recipe
4.91 from 11 votes

Fresh Vegan Kale Pesto Pasta

This kale pesto is absolutely delicious and uses lots of pantry staples (hemp hearts, pasta, canned chickpeas). It is easy to make, comes together quickly, and very veggie-forward—it is sure to become a family favourite.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Digital kitchen scale optional
  • Cooking pot
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan
  • Colander

Ingredients

Kale Pesto

  • 1 bunch kale
  • cup hemp hearts
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Pasta

  • 2 heads broccoli cut into florets and stems peeled and chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 350 grams pasta of choice ¾ lb
  • 1-398 grams chickpeas, drained and rinsed 14 fl oz or one can
  • Salt and oil for cooking
  • Hemp hearts chili flakes, or Brasil nuts to garnish

Instructions

  • Begin by making the pesto. Remove the tender kale from the stems, set the stems aside or compost them. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and blanch the kale for a few seconds, or until the kale is bright green. Set the kale aside to cool.
  • Once the kale is cool, squeeze the water out so that the kale leaves are nice and dry. Add the kale, hemp hearts, oil, garlic, yeast, water, lemon juice and sea salt in a food processor. Puree until well combined and no large leaves of kale remain.
  • Get the pasta on, cooking as required.
  • Next, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a few teaspoons of cooking oil along with the broccoli. Toss the broccoli so that you get some charred areas. Add a few tablespoons of water if the broccoli starts to stick. Continue to cook, string often, until the broccoli is tender, but not mushy, about 8 minutes.
  • Once the broccoli is cooked, add the rinsed chickpeas and toss until they are warmed.
  • Drain the pasta and combine in the frying pan along with the broccoli and pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Top with hemp hearts, chili flakes, or grated brazil nuts.

Notes

If you grate a brazil nut on a microplane, it makes fine shavings that are like a dairy-free parm.

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