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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. 

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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 Macaroni with Greens, Lemon, and Parmesan:

(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

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

  1. Love it Kalyn! I don't mind an assertive green leafy vegetable.

  2. Just a Smidgen, this latest version is with baby kale. I found the mustard greens a bit strong.

    Barbara, Joanne, Lydia, Lauren, So glad everyone is like this. We absolutely loved the recipe with baby kale.

    Farmgirl, it must be fate!

  3. The new photos are beautiful, Kalyn. This dish sounds so good, especially with all that lemon. And – miracle of miracles – I have a bumper crop of young kale in the garden, a big bag of lemons in the fridge, and a package of macaroni in the pantry. It must be fate! 🙂

  4. This looks and sounds wonderful. I'm a big fan of greens with pasta, as well. Also, I'm loving your banner this fall! Love the squashes =)

  5. I still haven't been able to find that baby kale in my local markets, but more markets are starting to sell good quality chopped kale. When I buy a big bag, I use it more often, and a meatless kale dish like this one is so appealing.

  6. I'm absolutely drooling at the thought of all that lemony deliciousness! And all the kale. Swoon.

  7. I need to eat more greens. Glad you updated this one.

  8. I've never seen or cooked with mustard greens.. but I'm sure intrigued now! Your dish looks so yummy!!

  9. What a great idea! I'll bet I could sneak some greens on my nephew with this recipe.

  10. This recipe looks great. I got some mustard greens in my organic produce delivery this week and was trying to figure out how to use them. This looks perfect! Thanks!

  11. Hola Kalyn, I am not missing this WHB! This is the link to my post: http://panamagourmet.blogs.com/cookingdiva/2006/04/cooking_with_sa.html

  12. That looks lovely,yum! The potstckers could use some mustard greens in the next batch. You are right, they are called Gyoza also, so many names, so many dialets. It depends if you are speaking Madarine or Cantonese (one of them I know about ten words), but I can never remember which is which???!!

    Now what should I make for dinner? Something with parsley I think…!

    That is my choosen herb of the WHB

  13. We usually make salad with mustard greens, first boil them, then dress them with a sauce consisting of garlic,olive oil, salt and lemon.
    I never tried it with pasta before, thanks for the idea.

  14. Oh, I love mustard greens and well, all greens in general. I bet they are fabulous in pasta! Must try and soon – great post!

  15. How funny, I sprouted black mustard and now it is getting green. I never eat mustard greens, so I’ll try them

  16. Oh, we’re cross commenting. How exciting. Sher and Kudzu, thanks for your comments about the mustard greens. I liked them enough that I’d consider trying the younger ones or longer cooking time. Hmm…. I’m thinking slowly braised, then served with a little of my very best balsamic vinegar and maybe some parmesan.

  17. Mae, let us know about this. I love learning new names for things.

  18. Mustard greens can be daunting, they are so personally intense. We used to mix them in with turnip greens (less assertive). Of course they were cooked much longer than yours — and there’s a reason why. They really need to mellow out and are better in the slow-cooked Southern style. I admire your dedication and your pursuit of new greens — these are juse observations.

  19. I also love pasta with greens. I was born in the South and there are definite mustard green factions there. Some peope in my family don’t like them very much and prefer turnip greens or collards, others adore them. I like them when they are very young.

  20. I have a feeling that mustard greens are the same as mizuna… i’ll check this.