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Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese

This Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese is a quick dinner that’s low-glycemic, meatless, and South Beach Diet Phase Two. Use the Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

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Sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than a simple bowl of pasta with a few flavorful ingredients. When I make pasta for a main dish, I try to use a lot of healthful low-glycemic ingredients in proportion to the amount of pasta, and this recipe for Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese uses a generous amount of fried kale and a simple-but-tasty sauce made with canned tomatoes.

The main thing that makes this recipe such a keeper is the way the goat cheese melts into the pasta, and the goat cheese and kale flavors together are a nice combination. I first made this with my nephew Jake on a day when we’d cooked and sampled several other things, and even thought we weren’t that hungry by the time we tried this, we both gobbled it up!

For this recipe we used the Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli that I’ve been experimenting with. You could use any type of low-carb or whole wheat pasta you’d like, or even regular white flour pasta if you prefer. I don’t indulge in pasta all that often but I’d love a bowl of this delicious pasta for a meatless dinner, and of course this is perfect for Meatless Monday.

This week I am also connecting my post to a campaign created by Romano’s Macaroni Grill, partnering with with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry. For every blogger who shares an Italian recipe and links it to Macaroni Grill’s 1 Million Meals Campaign, Macaroni Grill will make a donation to help feed hungry kids, and that sounded like something I wanted to be a part of.  You can help feed hungry kids as well by using the tag #macgrillgive if you share this recipe on Facebook or Twitter.

Saute chopped red onion and minced garlic on low heat for a couple of minutes, then add some chopped parsley and fresh thyme.

Add some chicken or vegetable stock and a can of petite diced tomatoes plus their juice and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Let the sauce simmer on low while you cook the pasta and saute the kale.

I have abundant kale in my garden, so I chopped and washed about 8 cups  of fresh kale.  Heat the oil, then add the kale to the frying pan all at once.  (A frying pan with high sides like this one is ideal.)

Fry the kale over medium-high heat just until it wilts and is starting to get tender, about 2-4 minutes.

Have the crumbled goat cheese ready.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, then scoop about 1/4 cup of the cooking water before you drain it.  Drain pasta well and save the water.

Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce, which has thickened and reduced slightly.

Mix in the fried kale and gently stir to combine with the pasta and tomato sauce.  Season the dish to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Then gently stir in the goat cheese (and the reserved pasta cooking water if you think you’d like a little more liquid.)  We did use the extra water and it helped distribute the creamy melted goat cheese in the finished dish.

Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese

Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese
(Makes about 4-6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)

8 oz.  Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli (or other pasta variety and shape of your choice)
1 tsp. salt, for pasta cooking water
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
1/3 cup chopped red onion or shallots
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 T chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (14.5 oz.) canned petite dice tomatoes plus juice
generous pinch of red pepper flakes
8 oz. chopped kale leaves (about 8 cups; you can use less if you don’t have garden kale)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese


Start a large pot of water boiling, and add the salt.  When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook at a low boil for 11 minutes (or the amount of time specified on the package if you’re not using the Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli that I used.)  When pasta is done, drain well, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the chopped red onion and saute for a couple of minutes, until the onion softens.  Add the minced garlic, chopped parsley, and chopped thyme leaves and saute a minute more.  Add stock, petite diced tomatoes plus juice, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and let the sauce cook at a low simmer while you saute the kale.

Chop up the kale, cutting away inner ribs if they’re thick.  (The easiest way to chop kale is to cut off the stems with kitchen scissors, pile up the kale leaves in a stack, and then slice the kale one way, turn the cutting board, and slice the other way.  I cut the kale into pieces 1-2 inches square.  Wash kale in a salad spinner if needed.)

Heat the other 2 tsp. of olive oil in another large frying pan (preferably with high sides), add the kale all at once, and fry the kale over medium-high heat, turning often, until it’s barely tender-crisp.  This will take 2-4 minutes, depending on how hot your stove is.
After you’ve drained the pasta, stir it into the pan with the tomato sauce, then stir in the fried kale and gently combine.   Season the dish to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.  Stir in the crumbled goat cheese (and reserved pasta cooking water if desired) and gently stir to coat the pasta with the goat cheese.  Serve hot.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Suggestions:

Using whole wheat pasta to make this vegetarian pasta dish makes it low-glycemic or approved for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  Whole wheat pasta would be too high in carbs for a traditional low-carb diet plan, but you could make this with Zucchini Noodles for a low-carb version.

Find More Recipes Like This One:

Use the Diet Type photo index pages to find more 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.

Nutritional Information?

If you want nutritional information for a recipe, you can sign up for a free membership with Yummly and use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information. Another option is entering the recipe into this Recipe Nutrition Analyzer, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ideas with Whole Wheat Pasta:
Spicy Whole Wheat Sesame Noodles with Chicken, Green Onions, and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Peppers and Eggplant from Aggie’s Kitchen

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic, Chard, and Pecorino-Romano Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Simple Cherry Tomato Pasta from Macheesmo

Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese found on KalynsKitchen.com
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18 comments on “Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese”

  1. This really sounds both healthy and filling. Something about the onset of cooler weather that makes me hungry for something like this…

  2. Love this recipe. I think my family would too.

  3. Mimi, I know what you mean!

    Thanks Barbara; hope you enjoy it!

  4. I love it! Actually, I just made my own version of pasta with kale a couple days ago. Such a perfect and easy meal!

  5. This Pasta is right up my alley Kalyn – I could eat this just about any night!

  6. Jeanette, me too. And I think it's pretty healthy even with the goat cheese.

  7. Anything with goat cheese and I'm there.

  8. Pam, me too!

    People are welcome to use any pasta type or shape they prefer, but I'm not going to publish comments that sound like an ad for a different type of pasta.

  9. This looks delicious! I'm just starting my fall/winter garden and will have some kale.

  10. so many things I like in this recipe. I'm pinning this one to try soon!

  11. Busy Working Mom, hope you enjoy, and yaay for garden kale.

    Becky, come and get kale from me if you want some!

  12. Making this tonight! I've got everything on hand and can't wait.

  13. Becky, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  14. This sounds really delicious and healthy. Yum!

  15. I made this tonight for meat-free Monday. Very nice! 🙂

  16. I love this recipe; so glad you enjoyed it!

  17. My family eats a lot of meatless meals but I have to confess…. I added Italian sausage to the pan before the kale and it was super good. I already knew we would like this without meat 🙂 spicy sausage would have been better but I have 1 out of 4 kids who can't handle spicy. Thanks for the keeper recipe. I cook your recipes a lot –
    Should comment more but I am sooooo busy!!! Love them!

  18. So glad you enjoyed it, and meat or no meat, totally your choice!

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