RecipeKale-Pesto Macaroni Salad

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
  • Calories: 230
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Total Fat: 6.5 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 5.5 g
    • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 40 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8 g
  • Total Sugar: 1 g
    • Natural Sugar: 1 g
    • Added Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 110 mg

I’m serving up a nutrient-rich pesto that’s packed with aromatic basil and crazy-good-for-you kale. I also love blending heart-healthy toasted almonds or walnuts into this recipe, but you can easily make it nut-free by swapping in pumpkin seeds. Pro tip: I toss in a single small ice cube while blending my pesto to maintain the bright green color. Mix it with whole grain elbows and enjoy your delish macaroni hot or cold —either way this dish serves a crowd with ease, and your guests will be retuning for seconds, guaranteed. 

  • Prep time
  • Total Time
This recipe makes 1.25 cups pesto sauce
  • One 16-oz box of whole grain elbow macaroni
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, blanched almonds or walnuts
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby kale leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Prepare the macaroni according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

Prepare the pesto by placing the garlic, nuts, salt, pepper, Parmesan, lemon juice, greens, and basil to a food processor or blender and pulse until the greens are finely chopped. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water and scrape down the sides as needed to ensure everything is incorporated and well blended. Toss in a single small ice cube while blending to maintain the bright green color. Then drizzle in the olive oil while you continue to pulse until everything is evenly blended. Season with additional salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

Toss the kale pesto with cooked whole grain pasta (about 1 tablespoon pesto for 1 cup cooked macaroni).

Note: This recipe allows you to whip up a great big batch of pesto, so you’ll have plenty leftover and store extra in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and add a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent it from turning brown.

Nutrition provided for 1 tablespoon pesto with 1 cup cooked whole grain pasta.

Try my Chicken Parm Meatballs and Penne alla Vodka!