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Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts

This Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts is super simple to make, and packed with flavor. Make it with your pasta of choice ~ gluten free, grain free, or legume based for a nutritious boost of protein and fiber. So delicious!

Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts

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 kale pasta salad dressed in a lemony vinaigrette, and topped off with pistachio nuts.

lemon tree

It all started last week, when I was set to make this yummy Kale Salad with Pistachio Nuts from my friend Deanna at Teaspoon of Spice.

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, because you can never go wrong with Parmesan, right?!

Oh, yum.

So yummy, 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 pasta salad with crunchy kale and pistachios, sour lemon juice, salty Parmesan, and spicy red pepper flakes.

Ingredients Lemony Kale Pasta Salad

And, now I think you should make it too, even if you think you’re not a kale lover like my hubby ๐Ÿ™‚

Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts

Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts

This Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts is super simple to make, and packed with flavor. Make it with your pasta of choice ~ gluten free, grain free, or legume based for a nutritious boost of protein and fiber. So delicious!
4.5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 main dish servings


  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 8 oz gluten free pasta
  • 4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts chopped
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste


  • For the dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic in a jar. Shake well to combine and set aside.
  • 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.Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • 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.


Low FODMAP Option
  • Make with your favorite low FODMAP pasta.
  • Omit fresh garlic and add a teaspoon of garlic oil.
  • Swap pistachio nuts for walnuts or any other low FODMAP nuts.
Vegan Option
  • Omit Parmesan cheese
Paleo Option
  • Make w/ Paleo pasta such as Capellos
  • Omit Parmesan cheese


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 32g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 137mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g
EA Stewart, RD | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Gluten Free, Low FODMAP Option, Mediterranean, Paleo Option, Vegan Option, Vegetarian
Keyword gluten free pasta salad, picnic recipes, quick and easy recipes
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Lemony Kale Pasta Salad

The really great thing about this kale 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!

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???

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing. Thanks so much for your support!

44 thoughts on “Lemony Kale Pasta Salad with Pistachio Nuts”

  1. Kelly Stricklin

    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!

    1. Hi Kelly! So glad you’ve been enjoying the pasta ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Go tohttp://thewimpyvegetarian.com/2012/02/the-perfect-his-and-hers-steak-dinner-and-another-liebster-blog-award/ to pick it up!!

  7. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 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 .

  10. 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. 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!

  11. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Too funny-I’ve never heard the term crap kale before ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

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