This vegetarian pasta recipe features a deliciously creamy lemon garlic sauce and nutrient-dense kale! Made on the stovetop in about 20 minutes, this creamy kale pasta is a comforting and cozy weeknight meal. Use your favorite long, wide noodle like fettuccine for this recipe.

fork twisting a spoonful of pasta in a low bowl with creamy fettuccine pasta with kale

There are few meals I love more than a big, cozy bowl of pasta. As a food blogger and Registered Dietitian, I have a whole library of delicious healthy pasta recipes for you to try. Because YES, pasta can absolutely be part of a well-balanced diet, especially when it features nutrient-dense kale!

This creamy kale pasta is definitely my new favorite kale recipe. Even kale skeptics will enjoy kale when it’s served in a cheesy, creamy sauce and a big pile of noodles. If you are new to kale or still unsure if you enjoy it, this recipe is a delicious way to give it a try.

This easy creamy pasta recipe takes just about 20 minutes to prepare, making it perfect for busy weeknights. It is a vegetarian recipe makes 4-6 servings as a main dish.

If you want to ty more kale pasta recipes, try my kale pesto pasta, butternut squash and kale pasta, cauliflower kale pasta, and roasted eggplant and kale pappardelle with burrata.

Step-by-step video

Ingredients in creamy kale pasta

Here is everything you need to make this recipe:

  • Fettuccine or other long, wide noodle
  • Curly kale or lacinato kale
  • Butter
  • All purpose flour
  • Whole milk
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon
  • Thyme
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Salt and pepper

Kitchen tools needed

You need a large pot for cooking pasta, and another large pot or saute pan for making the creamy sauce.

creamy kale pasta ingredients measured out on a light grey backdrop

How to make a roux

A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken sauces. For this recipe, you’ll need to make a light roux so the sauce gets thick and creamy, and silky smooth. Here’s how to make a roux:

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a saute pan or pot. For this sauce, you will also add minced garlic and fresh time. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add an equal amount of all purpose flour. For this sauce, you will also add paprika and cayenne pepper.
  • Cook for 60-90 seconds, stirring constantly. Normally, the roux would be white or very light in color, slightly puffed, and somewhat pasty. Since we add spices in this recipe, the roux will be a reddish orange color.

Once the roux is ready, you can slowly add the milk and stir in the cheese to complete the sauce.

dutch oven with a roux being cooked

How to make creamy kale pasta

  1. Bring generously salted water to a boil in a large stock pot.
  2. Once water is boiling, add fettuccine and cook according to package instructions.
  3. In a separate stock pot or saute pan, make a white roux with butter, flour, garlic, thyme, and spices (as outlined above).
  4. Slowly whisk milk into the roux, a little bit at a time, constantly stirring.
  5. Cook the sauce for 3-5 minutes to let it thicken, whisking frequently.
  6. Stir into the sauce shredded parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  7. When pasta has one minute left to cook, add the kale directly to the pasta water. Give it a brief stir.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and kale.
  9. Stir the pasta water into the sauce to thin it out a bit. Then add the cooked pasta and kale directly to the pot with the sauce. This will also help the pasta noodles adhere to the sauce.
  10. Stir everything up together until all the noodles are coated in the creamy sauce.
  11. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and more shredded parmesan cheese.

Can I use another type of milk instead of whole milk?

I have only tested this recipe with whole milk, so I cannot say for sure if another type of milk will work. I think you would have more success using dairy milk rather than a plant based milk in terms of flavor.

What to serve with creamy kale pasta

I love to serve pasta with some crusty bread and a simple salad or side of roasted vegetables. This dish would be delicious paired with lemon roasted cauliflower, crispy smashed brussels sprouts, air fried artichoke hearts, or heirloom tomato & burrata salad!

Storing and reheating creamy kale pasta

If you have leftovers, you can store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1 minute, or until the pasta is warmed through.

Close up bowl of creamy fettuccine pasta with kale, with a small bowl of parmesan cheese in the background

Is pasta healthy?

Regular white pasta, made from wheat flour and water, can definitely be part of a well-balanced diet. On it’s own, pasta does have nutrition benefits! One cup of plain cooked pasta provides:

  • 2.5 grams of dietary fiber (9% of your daily needs)
  • 8 grams of plant-based protein
  • 1.8 mg iron (10% of your daily needs)
  • 0.381 mg thiamin (32% of your daily needs)
  • 0.189 mg riboflavin (15% of your daily needs)
  • 2.351 mg niacin (15% of your daily needs)
  • 165.20 mcg folate (41% of your daily needs)
  • 36.68 mcg selenium (67% of your daily needs)

While pasta is high in carbohydrates, you can easily make it a balanced meal by adding in lots of non-starchy vegetables, healthy pasta sauces, and lean proteins such as shrimp, salmon, or tofu.

Because pasta provides a good amount of plant-based protein and iron, it’s an especially good staple food to include if you follow a plant-based diet.

Kale nutrition & health benefits

Kale is incredibly nutrient dense. This means it contains a lot of nutrients in very little calories. One cup of chopped raw kale provides:

  • 2.8 grams of dietary fiber (10% of your daily needs)
  • 2 grams of plant-based protein
  • 170 mg calcium (13% of your daily needs)
  • 1.1 mg iron (6% of your daily needs)
  • 161.47 mcg Vitamin A (18% of your daily needs)
  • 62.6 mg Vitamin C (134% of your daily needs)
  • 261.3 mcg Vitamin K (218% of your daily needs)
  • 0.616 mg manganese (27% of your daily needs)

In addition to vitamins and minerals, kale has other beneficial compounds including antioxidants and glucosinolates. These compounds help keep us healthy by fighting off inflammation, promoting heart health, and reducing risk of certain diseases.

low bowl with creamy fettuccine pasta with kale, ingredients surrounding the bowl on a light grey backdrop

Let me know if you love these recipes by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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fork twisting a spoonful of pasta in a low bowl with creamy fettuccine pasta with kale

20-Minute Creamy Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This vegetarian pasta recipe features a deliciously creamy lemon garlic sauce and nutrient-dense kale! Made on the stovetop in about 20 minutes, this creamy kale pasta is a comforting and cozy weeknight meal. Use your favorite long, wide noodle like fettuccine for this recipe.


Ingredients

Scale

Creamy lemon garlic pasta sauce

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Juice of half a lemon

Kale pasta

  • 1 lb fettuccine or other long noodle
  • 6 packed cups of curly kale
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water salted with a spoonful of Kosher salt to a boil in a stock pot. When water is boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In another pot or saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the flour and spices to the butter. Cook for 60-90 seconds stirring frequently to create a roux. *detailed instructions in notes.
  4. To the roux, slowly begin whisking in the whole milk, a little bit at a time.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes for the sauce to thicken, continuing to stir regularly.
  6. Once thickened, stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When pasta has 1 minute left of cook time, add the kale directly to the pasta. Give it a gentle stir to mix it in.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Stir it into the sauce to loosen it up a bit.
  9. Drain the pasta and the kale.
  10. Add the cooked pasta and kale directly to the pot with the sauce.
  11. Stir everything up well so all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
  12. Serve in bowls with freshly cracked black pepper and shredded parmesan cheese. 

Notes

How to make a roux

A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken sauces. For this recipe, you’ll need to make a light roux so the sauce gets thick and creamy, and silky smooth. Here’s how to make a roux:

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a saute pan or pot. For this sauce, you will also add minced garlic and fresh time. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add an equal amount of all purpose flour. For this sauce, you will also add paprika and cayenne pepper.
  • Cook for 60-90 seconds, stirring constantly. Normally, the roux would be white or very light in color, slightly puffed, and somewhat pasty. Since we add spices in this recipe, the roux will be a reddish orange color.

Storing and reheating creamy kale pasta

If you have leftovers, you can store this pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1 minute, or until the pasta is warmed through.

Keywords: creamy kale pasta, kale pasta recipes, vegetarian pasta recipes, healthy pasta recipes