Kale Pasta Salad
We loved this Kale Pasta Salad that has fried kale, tomatoes, olives, Feta, and a flavorful pesto vinaigrette! This is probably lower in carbs than you might think, but see tips below for making a lower-carb or low-carb version.
This recipe for Kale Pasta Salad was something that started out as a complete experiment when I was cooking with my nephew Jake and we’d just gotten some Whole Wheat Fusilli in the mail. I’m such a fan of the Garofalo Whole Wheat Spaghetti so I couldn’t wait to experiment with this new whole wheat pasta shape. Jake and I fried some kale from the garden and added tomatoes, olives, and Feta, and this delicious pasta salad was the happy result!
I think of mayo-free pasta salads like this one as more of a main dish than some pasta salads, and I used less pasta and more other ingredients for a more carb-conscious dish. I enjoyed this for dinner the night we made it, and I’m recommending it to you for a meatless dinner or lunch idea that’s probably lower in carbs than you might think (check the nutritional information.) And whatever you do, don’t skip the step of frying the kale!
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
- Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli (affiliate link), or other whole wheat pasta of your choice
- salt (for pasta cooking water)
- kale leaves
- cherry tomatoes
- canned black olives
- crumbled Feta
- fresh-squeezed lemon juice, I used my fresh-frozen lemon juice
- white balsamic vinegar (affiliate link), or other mild white vinegar
- Basil Pesto (affiliate link)
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
What pasta did we use?
I’m a huge fan of Garofalo pasta from Italy, and we used Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli (affiliate link) for this recipe. (And if you’ve been disappointed by other whole wheat pastas, I can assure you that this Italian whole wheat pasta tastes great!)
How to make a lower-carb or low-carb version of this salad:
The Kale Pasta Salad as written has 14.5 net carbs in a side-dish serving. You can make a version that’s much lower in carbs by using even less pasta and more kale, tomatoes, olives, and Feta. Or if you want a truly low-carb pasta salad, replace the pasta with Palmini Pasta (affiliate link) and follow instructions in this recipe for cooking the pasta.
What if you’re not a fan of Feta?
If you’re not a Feta Cheese fan, use another cheese in this recipe like goat cheese, Parmesan, or even Mozzarella.
How to make this pasta salad with kale:
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and then drain well.
- Mix lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, pesto, and olive oil to make the flavorful pesto dressing.
- Chop up the kale leaves and wash in a salad spinner (affiliate link) if needed.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with high sides, and add the kale pieces all at once.
- Stir-fry the kale, turning often, just until it’s wilted and slightly tender. This only takes 2-3 minutes.
- When the pasta is drained, stir about half the dressing into the still slightly-warm pasta. Let it sit while you cut up the olives and tomatoes and crumble the feta.
- Stir the fried kale into the pasta.
- Then gently stir in the tomatoes and olives.
- Add more dressing as needed, depending on how moist you like your salads.
- Finally, gently stir in the crumbled Feta, season the salad to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve.
More Tasty Meatless Pasta Salad Recipes:
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Beans, Capers, & Balsamic Yogurt Dressing from Cookin’ Canuck
Pesto Pasta Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- 8 oz. Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli, or other whole wheat pasta of your choice
- 1 tsp. salt (for pasta cooking water)
- 8 oz. kale leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 T olive oil (for stir-frying the kale)
- 1 cup cherry tomato halves
- one 6 oz. can black olives, drained and cut in half
- 1/4 cup crumbled Feta (or more)
- 1 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 T white balsamic vinegar, or other mild white vinegar
- 3 T pesto (see notes)
- 2 T olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to a low boil and cook for exactly 11 minutes (or according to package directions if you’re using a different type of pasta.)
- Drain pasta into a colander placed in the sink and let it drain well.
- While the pasta cooks, chop up the kale leaves (cutting away the inner ribs if they’re large), and wash kale in a salad spinner (affiliate link) if needed.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan with high sides, add the kale all at once, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the kale has wilted and is starting to get tender. (It should still be a little chewy but not raw tasting.) Turn off pan and let the kale cool.
- Mix together the fresh-squeezed lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and pesto, then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing. (I used 3 T of pesto, but if you're not sure how much you like that flavor I'd start with 2 T pesto and then taste to see if you’d like to add the other tablespoon for more pesto flavor.)
- When the pasta has drained well but is still warm, transfer it to a bowl and stir in about half the dressing.
- Let the pasta sit while you cut cherry tomatoes and olives and crumble the feta.
- Stir the cooled kale into the pasta in the bowl.
- Add the tomatoes and olives and gently combine; then add more dressing as desired (depending on how moist you like your salads.) If you don’t use all the dressing save it for drizzling over tomatoes or to perk up any leftover salad.
- Gently stir in the crumbled Feta, season salad to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve.
- I usually don’t like to refrigerate salads with tomatoes, but this was still quite good the second day.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11.9gCholesterol: 7.5mgSodium: 708mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3.5gSugar: 2.6gProtein: 5.3g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This salad with whole wheat pasta would be approved for Phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet. This salad has less carbs than you might think, but if you want a lower-carb version of this salad, use less pasta and a lot more kale, olives, and Feta. Or you can make the salad with Palmini Pasta (affiliate link) for a salad that will be truly low in carbs.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This salad was first posted in 2012. It was updated with more information and more options for a lower-carb or low-carb version of the salad in 2021.