Lemony Kale, Pasta, and Pistachio Salad

I’m convinced this world is made up of mixers and non-mixers.

Me.  I’m a mixer.

And if I weren’t a mixer, I never would have come up with this light and refreshing combo of kale, pasta, and pistachio nuts dressed in a lemony vinaigrette.

It all started last week, when I was set to make this lovely Kale Salad with Pistachio Nuts from Deanna at Teaspoon Communications that I had pinned on to my “Healthy Recipes to Make” board.

The plan was to serve it with a simple pasta-gluten-free pasta tossed in olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.

You know.

Comfort pasta.

So, the pasta was cooking, and I was preparing to make the kale salad when it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have any smoked paprika that the recipe called for.

I thought briefly about using plain paprika, but then tasted it and decided that there was probably a very good reason the recipe specified smoked paprika.

Nevertheless, I made the lemon dressing and tossed it with the salad.

Not bad, but definitely missing something.

Oh, right.

The smoked paprika.

At this point, I decided to improvise and threw in a generous handful of Parmesan.


REALLY nice.

So nice, that my self proclaimed non-kale eating husband {remember this kale smoothie I made for him to try???} smiled after his first bite, and then tried to go back for a second serving.

Too bad for him, I had already polished it off.

Now, I’m sure you may be wondering where the mixing part of the story comes in to the picture.

Here’s the thing-I pretty much “mix” everything on my plate when I eat.  I love the taste and feel of combining flavors and textures in my mouth.

I think that’s why I’m so fond of Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines-they all satisfy the palette with sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy and sour all at once.


And that, my friends, is how I came to imagine this kale and pasta salad with crunchy kale and pistachios, sour lemon juice, salty Parmesan, and spicy red pepper flakes.

Even if you’re not a mixer, I think you’ll like it.


My non kale eating husband loved it!

Here’s the recipe…

Lemony Kale, Pasta, and Pistachio Salad

Lemony Kale, Pasta, and Pistachio Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 main dish servings
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 8 ounces dry pasta {I used gluten-free penne pasta}
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chopped pistachio nuts
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  1. For the dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic in a jar. Shake well to combine and set aside.
  2. For the pasta salad: Cook the pasta according to directions, then drain. Pour the pasta in to a large bowl, and add the chopped kale, parmesan cheese, and pistachio nuts. Pour dressing on top and toss well.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  4. You may serve the pasta salad right away, but I recommend letting the dressing infuse the pasta and kale for 10 or more minutes. You may also keep it in the refrigerator and serve it cold the next day.

The really great thing about this pasta salad is that you can prepare it ahead of time for a party or enjoy a one bowl meal for lunch or dinner.  Add a piece of fresh fruit and you are good to go!

{This post is also linked up to Sweet Shot Tuesday at My Three Boybarians.}

Are you a mixer or a non-mixer? Have you ever had smoked paprika?  Do you like kale?  If you don’t like kale, have I persuaded you to try this pasta salad???

I would LOVE to hear from you! Please click here to leave a comment or ask a question. And, if you enjoyed the post, please share it below. 

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  1. Obsessed with smoked paprika and as I’ve found out in a pinch, regular paprika doesn’t substitute well. As far as the dish, I’m a “mixer” too. However, when I saw the photo I did think it looked like two things mixed put together…I think the kale being smaller would look more pasta-salady, not sure. I do know you never mislead your readers so it must taste good even though something in me wants to separate the kale from the pasta. Oh yes, the anal side.

  2. Hmm…interesting-an unmixed mixed salad! The ratio of kale to pasta is pretty significant here, as that was the ratio of pasta to kale the first time I made it, and I liked that it was more veggie heavy than pasta heavy but, yes, you’ll definitely have to trust me on this one :). I guess I really need to seek out smoked paprika to see what all the buzz is about. Thanks Lauren!

  3. I love kale, but you’ve still persuaded me to try this!! I’m a mixer too, and I love random combinations like this. So fun!! And the pistachios probably make this dish just perfect (with the saltiness and the “crunch” factor). BRAVO!

  4. That’s a gorgeous salad and I’ve never been keen on kale. Maybe I have just had crap kale but I find it really bitter. If I could make a salad that looks like that, maybe I’d try it again. 🙂

    • Too funny-I’ve never heard the term crap kale before 🙂 I know many find it bitter, but I just love the freshness and flavor of it, and always feel so healthy when I eat it. Come visit me in California some time and I’ll make you a yummy kale salad!

  5. yum! i love simple healthy pastas! kale rocks! what type of GF pasta do you like??

    • Hi Junia! Usually I use Ancient Harvest corn and quinoa blend gluten-free pasta. Love the taste and texture, but which there were more variety of fun shapes. This time I used Jovial Foods brown rice pasta which comes in some different shapes, including the penne that I used. The taste and texture are really good too!

  6. This looks amazing EA!!
    Love the combo of lemon + kale + pistachios~~~
    I’m def a mixer!

  7. this looks absolutely delicious, EA! i’m a mixer of unexpected flavors, too + pistachios + lemons are one of my favorite combos. will definitely be trying this!

  8. Wow! This looks amazing! Your photos are fantastic!

  9. This looks incredible!
    I have only made kale chips and I know I really should venture out. This dish seems like the way to go.
    Ill do some mixing, but typically like my foods seperate. At the same time, I like some weird food combos to begin with. 😉

  10. This is a fabulous looking recipe! My cousin has Celiac Disease and I am a vegetarian so sometimes it seems that our family treats us as odd outcasts when we all gather for holidays/celebrations. Our strategy to “join in” is to make “normal looking food” that they could all easily enjoy as well and I think this recipe fits the bill just perfectly. Over the past years since her diagnosis, the quality and taste of gluten free pastas and other products has improved dramatically which I think helps as well. I remember the first gluten free pizza crust we got from a local restaurant was so bad even the dog wouldn’t eat it haha 🙁

    • Thanks Tanya! I’ve heard so many stories from people with celiac or food sensitivities whose family doesn’t really support them-Makes me feel so fortunate to have the support I do from my family and friends! You’re so right-the quality of gluten-free food is really pretty good these days, but even better when you make it yourself 🙂

  11. Love kale, planning to plant a few varieties this year. Going to really try hard and label all my plants so I can list the name when I am blogging about them.
    Will definitely make this dish but I will use only the tender leaves since the kale will be coming from my garden .

  12. this looks wonderful and often the best recipes are born this way 🙂

  13. I love red pepper flakes and kale! Is that your lemon tree? I’m jealous, I want one.

  14. Ooo this recipe looks simple, easy, and elegant! I just wrote a post today about needing to include MORE kale! LOve this recipe! Will be bookmarking it!

  15. I’m a mixer, too! And oh my, how I want to mix this all around my plate right now. So delish, EA!

  16. Dang – can’t believe I’m reading this 3 days after posting – so honored you wanted to try the kale salad and I’d say you created a dish that is right up my alley! I’m a total mixer too and penne or linguine tends to be the base of all my mix-ins – this is definitely getting made in my kitchen (and man, did I wish I lived somewhere warm enough to grow a lemon tree.) You keep on inspiring me with every post 🙂

  17. I love kale in pasta – this looks lovely! I’ve been enjoying reading your blog – so I awarded you a Liebster Blog Love award on my blog 🙂 Go tohttp://thewimpyvegetarian.com/2012/02/the-perfect-his-and-hers-steak-dinner-and-another-liebster-blog-award/ to pick it up!!

  18. Congratulations on the Leibster!Susan awarded me one too :)I love Kale EA and I’m also a mixer growing-up eating Indian food predominantly.Love all the different textures in your pasta.I’ve never added pistachos to my pastas, maybe I should try adding them next time.Loved all your pics especially the lemon tree!

  19. I love one dish meals and this one sounds so nice, light and healthy.

  20. This looks so refreshing! What is your fav brand of GF noodles? We have tried several. Open to any suggestions 🙂

  21. What a gorgeous salad, hearty and filling! I love the addition of pistachios, my second favorite nut! Sending hugs:-)

  22. wow! your photos are just incredible- what a great meal!

  23. Hey there just came upon your blog from Yahoo after I typed in,
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  24. Veronica says:

    Thanks for the recipe, this is delicious! I just made a spin of it with what I had, so sliced almonds instead of pistachios and feta instead of parmesan. Also added some lemony chicken I grilled up. Super good!

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  26. Fantastic recipe! I was searching the internet for a pasta and kale salad recipe and found yours! I made it for dinner tonight and it is my new go to pasta salad recipe. So delicious and I love that it is quick and healthy as well. The only change I made was to use Asiago cheese instead of Parmesan because that was what I had. Thank you!

  27. hmmm yummy 😉

  28. You know I was just getting bored of the whole kale thing and them i saw that nutritional ranking table on twitter which I retweeted; oh my goodness!! Then I came to have a look what you have got and saw this beauty which really fills me with thoughts of nutty, crunchy and silky textures. Perfect x

  29. Kelly Stricklin says:

    Okay, so I am hooked on the flavor of this and have been eating it like crazy! (I’m a lemon juice junkie, what can I say?) I probably shouldn’t be eating so much pasta thought, so I am wondering, how would you modify this recipe to use quinoa instead of pasta? Or maybe any other thoughts you have on a less processed substitute for the pasta in the recipe? Thanks!

    • Hi Kelly! So glad you’ve been enjoying the pasta 🙂 A couple of ideas…If you want a more traditional pasta taste, you could try Tolerant Foods Lentil or Black Bean Pasta which are both lower in carbs and higher in protein (I really like the lentil version, but haven’t tried black bean yet), or you could also try making this w/ zucchini (or other veggie) noodles which would be a lot of fun, yet lower in carbs/calories and still taste delicious. I’d love to know how it turns out!

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