This Lemon Garlic Pasta is a quick and easy pasta recipe, perfect for busy weeknights. It's garlicky, lemony and really tasty!
This recipe came about one evening when we came home after a busy day, the rain was pelting down, there wasn't much in the fridge, no one was going out to the shops, but we all wanted pasta. Doesn't everyone want pasta when you're exhausted and the weather is crappy? So I somehow managed to throw this lemon garlic pasta dish together and everyone was happy. Hunger is the best sauce! At least I thought that's why this went down so well, but no, they wanted it again and again, funny how some meals become favourites when you least expect it.
Now, this is a family favourite so I have refined it a little since it first appeared here last year. Cooking the garlic in the oil then removing it gives this dish a lovely garlic taste without it being too strong, which is great for kids who aren't too fond of that strong garlic taste. The lemon zest and juice really lifts the flavour of the kale and yes it probably makes it more palatable for kids, this is definitely my experience. Toasted pine nuts give a warm and toasty balance to all that lemon and kale and the saltiness of the parmesan takes away any tartness from the lemon. The black peppercorns add a nice little kick of heat, but if you're not into that then take them out the same time as the garlic.
How to Make Lemon Garlic Pasta with Kale
- Start by roasting the pinenuts, they need to be golden brown.
- Boil the pasta, I use a whole wheat spaghetti for this but regular spaghetti is great too. Remember to save a cup of that pasta water when you drain the pasta.
- Cook the garlic and peppercorns in the oil. I remove the garlic but leave the peppercorns in. This gives the oil all the flavour of the garlic without it being too strong.
- Next, sauté the kale. Cook up that kale in the garlic oil until it is wilted. It should be a lovely bright green colour!
- Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and cook for a minute then add the cheese, pinenuts and pasta water. Stir it well.
- Finally, add the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the kale along with the parsley. Toss it all together then drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil. Serve!
What to Serve with Lemon Garlic Pasta:
This pasta dish is perfect on its own but if you want to serve something with this then garlic bread is great.
Tips for reheating and storing Lemon Garlic Pasta:
This is really best served freshly made. I don't recommend freezing this dish but you can keep any leftovers in the fridge for a day or two and reheat it on the hob. I reheat this by adding a little more oil to the pot and heating it up until it is piping hot. Please bear in mind that the kale may be a bit wetter though.
Tips for Buying the Best Kale for your Pasta:
- Make sure the leaves are strong and green, avoid any wilted or yellow looking leaves. This usually means the kale has been sat in the shop for some time!
- Avoid kale with lots of little holes in it, this indicates insect damage.
- If you can, buy organic kale. Due to the popularity of Kale, it has been in the EWG Dirty Dozen List for some time now. So to avoid all those pesky pesticides try and buy organic.
- Smaller leaf kale will taste milder so if you are serving this to kids then this may be something worth considering.
More Quick and Easy Pasta Recipes:
- Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta
- Asparagus Pasta with Lemon
- Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta
- Orzo Pasta Salad
Lemon Garlic Pasta with Kale
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, (50g)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 fat cloves of garlic crushed
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 150 g kale (2 ¼ cups) washed, chopped, woody stems removed
- 250 g spaghetti (3 ½ cups) dry weight
- 1 large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- ⅓ cup finely grated vegetarian parmesan cheese (30g) + more for serving
- 1 large unwaxed lemon, zest and juice + lemon wedges for serving
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they are golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil then cook the pasta until al dente.Drain your pasta, but let the colander sit over the pasta saucepan so you collect some of that pasta water, you just need about a tablespoon.
- Slowly heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the crushed garlic and whole peppercorns and cook gently for 5 minutes over a low to medium heat. The oil should be bubbling around the garlic. Do not let the garlic burn. Fish out the garlic after 3- 5 minutes, leave the peppercorns in the oil.
- Add the kale to the olive oil and gently saute until the kale has turned bright green and is slightly wilted. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and cook for a minute.Now add in the pine nuts, parmesan and the water from the pasta. Stir over a medium heat for about two minutes.
- Add the pasta to the kale then add the parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Toss gently then serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan, some lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice if you wish and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Nutrition information is approximate and is calculated by using an online tool.
- Cup sizes are approximate, I use a metric scale to weigh all ingredients.
- I used whole wheat spaghetti for this but linguine or fusilli works very well too.
- Kids won't eat kale? Try substituting spinach and up the quantity to 200g.
- If you have kids that are not into spicy food or are quite young then I would remove the peppercorns when you remove the garlic.
- Want a creamy version of this? Add in a heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche when you add the pasta water and stir well.
- Want to make this vegan? Omit the parmesan and try a little nutritional yeast over the finished dish.
Made this tonight and enjoyed it with sides of salmon & corn on the cob. I reserved more than 1 Tbsp. pasta water, which was smart, as my noodles dried out. Shaved Parmesan really helps bring this dish together. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
Hi Sarah, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know about the noodles drying out, this hasn't happened to me any time I've made it but I'll test it again to make sure I've not missed anything 😉
Love this recipe! So tasty and easy!
Thank you x
This pasta is heaven on a plate. I love its simplicity yet the flavours are impressive. It's also a great way to sneak a little kale into our family meals.
Thanks so much, Lucy. It's a great way to get more greens in 😉
We loved it! Our new favorite meal for weeknights!
Thanks so much Toni! I'm so glad you enjoyed it Xx
what beautiful photos! makes me hungry. this pasta sounds incredible. so many fresh flavors and it's so simple to make!
Thanks Danielle x
Mmm this looks like a super satisfying pasta dish. I love the use of kale and pine nuts.
Thanks Rosa x
Kate | The Veg Space
Oh I just love your photos, and this dish is EXACTLY the kind of thing I make when the fridge is almost empty too. Simple but so delicious. I've just had a break from blogging too, totally know what you mean about the love-hate relationship!
Thank you so much Kate x It's a funny old thing blogging, isn't it? A break is always good though 😉
Absolutely loved the recipe. A pasta family here where kids can’t get enough of it and to top that they love their garlic in pasta and that is tonnes of garlic...I am so giving this a try... summery and fresh! Your photos are screaming summer
Thank you so much Sonal x I hope you and your family enjoy it 🙂
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
This sounds and looks like such a delicious and refreshing dish! I love flavourful pasta like this!
Thank you so much Bintu x It's my favourite way to eat pasta at the moment 😉
We make this all the time. It’s such a lovely light pasta dish.
It's a real family favourite here 🙂
Oh boy, that looks heavenly!!! Think I'm going to have this on my menu plan this week, thank you!
Thanks so much Jane x I hope you enjoy it 🙂
Yes! Pastas like this are always such a win in my book! They are so easy to throw together and so healthy and delicious, too. Yum!
Thanks Kate, easy dinners are always on the menu here 😉