Kalyn's Kitchen

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan has amazing flavor going on for a meatless dinner idea; if you want less carbs, use more greens and less macaroni. 

PIN the recipe to try it later!

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan found on KalynsKitchen.com

Through the years I’ve tried quite a few recipes that featured some combination of pasta and greens, and I don’t think it’s any secret that kale is probably my favorite leafy green. So while I was a little ambivalent about the mustard greens I used when I first created this recipe, this time I absolutely swooned over the dish with Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale.

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan is a different take on the usual pasta/greens combo, in particular because of the way the generous amount of lemon zest accents the flavor of the kale.  If you’re not a fan of kale, collard greens or swiss chard would also taste good in this dish. And for a lower-carb version just use a lot more greens and less pasta.

This recipe could certainly make a great veggie and pasta side dish (and maybe you can tell your kids that it’s Macaroni and Cheese with Kale!)  But truthfully, for a Meatless Monday dinner I would happily eat a big bowl of this with a nice green salad on the side.

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan process shots collage

How to make this recipe:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Start cooking the pasta in salted water; then zest two large lemons, and then squeeze the juice. (You will only need 1 tablespoon of juice for this recipe, but just freeze the extra lemon juice.)
  2. If you’re using larger greens you’ll need to chop them up but with the Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale, we just washed it in the salad spinner.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan; then add the garlic and lemon zest and saute 1 minute.
  4. Add the greens and cook until they’re wilted. This will take just 2-3 minutes for baby greens and about 5 minutes for larger chopped greens.
  5. Drain the pasta, saving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Add the hot pasta, lemon juice, and reserved pasta cooking water to the pan.
  7. Turn off heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Vegetarian Recipes with Kale:

Spaghetti with Kale and Tomato Sauce from Bell’alimento
Baby Kale and Mozzarella Quesadillas from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Vegan Red Curry Tofu with Kale and Brown Rice from The Perfect Pantry

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan found on KalynsKitchen.com

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan has amazing flavors and is a great meatless dinner.


  • 2 cups (dry) Macaroni (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. salt for pasta cooking water
  • 1 bunch greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, or swiss chard (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 1 T lemon juice (I would freeze the extra juice to use later)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Cook Macaroni in a large pot of salted water until barely al dente (about 8-9 minutes, but follow cooking time on the package of pasta).
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining.
  3. While pasta cooks, zest the lemons and squeeze the juice and finely chop the garlic.
  4. Save 1 tablespoon of juice for this recipe and store or freeze the rest.
  5. Wash greens in a salad spinner and spin dry.
  6. If using larger greens, slice crosswise into 1 inch wide ribbons, discarding stems.  (Baby greens don’t need to be sliced.)
  7. Heat olive oil in large frying pan, add garlic and lemon zest and saute 1 minute.
  8. Add greens and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes for larger greens or 2-3 minutes for baby greens.
  9. As soon as pasta is al dente, save 1/4 cup cooking water and then drain the pasta well and add to  greens/garlic/lemon mixture, with lemon juice and reserved pasta cooking water (as needed.)
  10. Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve hot, with additional cheese to be added at the table if desired.


I originally made this recipe with Dreamfields pasta (affiliate link). Use any type of whole grain or whole wheat macaroni you prefer. I used 8 oz. Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kale.

This recipe created by Kalyn.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 914mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g

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.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Suggestions:
Made with reduced-carb or whole wheat pasta, this Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan would be a great dish for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet.  It’s too high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan, but you could use less pasta and a lot more greens if you want a lower-carb version.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Leafy Greens or Pasta to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by 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, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

Historical Notes for This Recipe:
Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan was first posted in 2006; the recipe was last updated July 2020.

Pinterest image of Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    39 Comments on “Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan”

  1. I made this with mustard greens from my garden, and it was fantastic. Thank you!

  2. Can I substitute baby spinach for the baby kale?!

  3. So glad you enjoyed it. And I'd say more kale is always good. And for me, more lemon too!

  4. Just made this recipe. LOVE, LOVE, LOve the combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and kale. Honestly, I think you can double the kale and have the right balance of the recipe's pasta and greens. YUM…

  5. Spinach would probably be good, but it will cook much more quickly than kale.

  6. could i use spinach ?

  7. Thanks Dara! I especially appreciate the photo feedback coming from you!

  8. I love this healthy take on mac & cheese, Kalyn. Great photo, too!

  9. Thanks Annalise! I could eat this year round and be very happy with it.

  10. Looks like a perfect weeknight meal to me!

  11. Becky, that sounds good too!

  12. We're on the same wavelength because I just made a similar light pasta like this but added chickpeas and cauliflower to it as well! Delicious!

  13. Donna, you can add some cheddar if you'd like, lol!

  14. WHAT??? No cheddar cheese? Holy COw! I never knew there was another way to eat macaroni. Must Try. ASAP.

  15. CJ, you are so sweet, and I love the sound of beans in this too!

  16. Oh, this is one of my favorite and very quick to prepare dishes. Sooo good and good for you!
    Delicious, filling and budget friendly.
    (Sometimes I add cannelini beans to this too).

    Kalyn, I love your recipes.

  17. Thanks Gina (me too!)