If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s this: I’m always looking for ways to take my greens without actually having to eat vegetables. I know, I sound like I’m 5 years old. But it was my steadfast and stubborn approach to vegetables that led to one of my favorite recipes to date: green sauce pasta.
Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables and countless flavors they go in. The textures and colors boast a rainbow of visual inspiration. But I don’t like my veggies to taste “healthy” and boring. A lot of my kitchen experimentation involves finding how to upgrade my vegetables or get them so excited that I can’t help but eat a bucket full of them. This green sauce pasta recipe is one of them.
A few years ago, I was Joshua McFadden’s book, Six Seasons. It really speaks to my life philosophy of making wild vegetables interesting and delicious. No more boring salad filled with obligations due to guilt. One of his recipes that I love is this one Kale pasta. This is the first time I came up with the idea of mixing a vegetable into a silky smooth sauce and using it as an enhanced accompaniment rather than an afterthought with some leaves. I’ve tweaked and tweaked the sauce a bit over the past few years, making some tweaks here and there. It’s my absolute favorite way to incorporate more leafy greens into my meals without the need for a salad.
What is green sauce pasta?
Some people call this kale pesto, I prefer to call it a sauce. When I think about basil sauce, my thinking goes towards a thicker and more textured sauce. This green sauce is smooth, delicious, and rich. It is smooth and clings to the noodles like a warm blanket. In short: oh my god, and I prefer to eat my greens this way because I don’t feel like eating greens at all! The best part? You only need five ingredients. Spinach, olive oil, lemon, parmesan and basil.
You want to use good quality olive oil here, as it really enhances the flavor. Mix until the texture is silky smooth, then spread the butter over the pasta. Totally divine.
Can I use another green?
I’ve made McFadden’s original recipe with kale lacinato many times. It is dark green in color with a mild bitter taste from the greens. However, over the years, I have gradually switched to using spinach. I almost like the milder flavor of spinach and it blends smoother than the more fibrous kale. I also love how well it pairs with lemon. But know that you can absolutely use any dark green you have on hand! From kale to spinach to arugula, they all work the same way here. Just taste and adjust the sauce as you need. You can even make half a mix with spinach and kale.
Do I have to use fresh vegetables?
I make this recipe using fresh kale and spinach that is blanched very quickly in boiling water. You can also use frozen spinach as the greens will be blanched and cooked anyway.
One pot + one blender = green sauce pasta
I am all about one one pot meal. Luckily, all you need for this green sauce pasta recipe is a large pot of boiling water and a blender. *I’ll note, if you want to roast some garlic for the sauce, you’ll need a pan. But cleaning is still easy!
This method is perfect for those of us who want to minimize the dishes. Put the pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. First, blanch your greens then transfer them to a blender. Blanch your vegetables and set aside. Then cook the pasta in the same pot as you did with the vegetables. After you drain the noodles, everything is tossed and coated in the same pot. If, like me, you decide to eat dinner out of the pot, you’ve saved yourself a plate too!
Can I use a different type of pasta?
Any pasta you have will work! I had Trader Joe’s bucatini and enjoyed the sauce stuck in the hole in the middle. But this also goes well with fettuccine or penne and even classic spaghetti. I also think it would taste better than ravioli for a nice dinner.
What vegetables can I serve with this pasta?
Welcome spring into your kitchen with the best vegetables of the season. I love the sweetness of the peas with green sauce and the fresh asparagus. Both of these vegetables also become nice and soft when blanched quickly in boiling water, saving you time and effort. You can also blanch green beans or broccoli to make it work with this recipe. I think the green of the vegetables looks lovely with the green sauce. But feel free to get creative and use what you like!