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Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta

June 30, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
Weeknight dinners can be homemade, healthy, and fast! Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta comes together in just 30 minutes and is packed with hearty kale, citrus, and lots of fresh garlic for a real burst of flavor!

Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta

Feeding yourself a healthy dinner can be hard after a long day. But look no further----my favorite 30-minute meal lately has been this Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta, which is extremely flavorful, filling, and fast! Made with chopped kale, fresh garlic, lemon juice + slices, organic heavy cream, white wine, herbs + seasonings, and your favorite pasta; this dish is the perfect thing for the entire family! Dairy-Free, Vegan, + Gluten-Free options.

Deep black skillet filled with creamy pasta.

Hello, pasta lovers! Do you ever dream of velvety, creamy pasta that is comforting but also good for you? Today, that dream is about to come true! This Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta combines high-quality, healthy ingredients such as kale, garlic, and lemon and combines them with your favorite pasta shape. The result is a fast and fabulous meal that is filling and refreshing.

Pasta is extra special to me because I grew up eating it in so many ways. For a quick meal, I would toss pasta with some butter, tomato sauce, and cheese and happily call it dinner. But, this kale pasta is a grown-up version of that meal I had when I was younger. Such a classic comfort meal with a healthier twist! And if you're totally into lemon-flavored dishes, you'll definitely love this Lemon Brown Butter Pasta, Creamy Lemon Broccoli Tortellini Soup, Creamy Lemon Herb Parmesan Chicken, and Lemon Pepper Cauliflower Wings.

While some would not deem pasta as a health food, I like to pair my pasta with other healthy ingredients, which ensures that I'm getting enough nutrients while still enjoying the glorious carbohydrates that pasta offers. While my recipe calls for traditional white pasta, feel free to change up the variety based on your diet, including gluten-free pasta!

Overall, this creamy pasta is definitely comfort food in a bowl (or a plate), includes simple steps, and can totally be personalized based on preference----i.e. add meat if you aren't limited to a meatless diet, sub ingredients with vegan and/or gluten-free ones, adding additional greens for a brightness, etc.

Jump to:

What is Garlic and Herb Sauce Made of?

When it comes to this creamy pasta dish, I love combining freshly minced garlic with cream, butter, stock, and herbs like garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, etc. You'll just need to simmer everything together after the initial sauté of garlic until smooth.

Ingredients on a black table including rigatoni pasta, kale, heavy cream, herbs + seasonings, butter, lemon, garlic, and cheese.

How to Make Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta

Start making this recipe by boiling your pasta. For the sauce, you'll begin by sautéing a few garlic cloves, and then adding in the seasoning, lemon juice, cream, other ingredients, and parmesan, whisking until smooth. Then you add in the kale to simmer a bit along with lemon slices. Next, toss in your cooked + drained pasta and wallah. Serve immediately with additional grated parmesan, if desired.

Ingredients in Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta

  • Pasta. I like to use organic and a high-quality brand! While I love using ribbon-shaped pastas like Tagliatelle, you can sub with Fettuccine or Pappardelle. For a last resort, you can use Linguine. Also, can use your fave pasta shape like penne, rigatoni, etc.
  • Chicken or vegetable stock. Use store-bought organic, low-sodium broth or make your own! For a dairy-free or vegan option, use veggie stock.
  • Heavy cream. I recommend organic–always! Of course, for a dairy-free option, just use full-fat coconut cream/milk.
  • Olive oil. You can also use Grapeseed oil or coconut oil as well.
  • Butter. Use unsalted butter to add additional flavor and fat to sauce. For vegan option, use vegan butter.
  • Garlic. I prefer fresh, but you could substitute with ½ teaspoon garlic powder in a pinch.
  • Herbs + Seasonings. A great addition of flavor. You'll need salt, black pepper, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, + dill.
  • Parmesan cheese. You could also use pecorino romano or freshly-grated mozzarella. For a dairy-free option, use high-quality dairy-free cheese shreds that tastes great.
  • White wine. Optional. Choose a dry wine that you like the taste of. You can also sub with veggie stock, if desired.
  • Kale. Use fresh for best results, but frozen also works! Ensure that it's chopped roughly.
  • Lemon juice + lemon slices. You can use store-bought or freshly-squeeze juice from an actual lemon. You'll also want to slice ½ lemon thin to add to sauce for a nice simmer and flavor.

Best Types of Pasta To Use

If you're thinking of serving this creamy Lemon Garlic Herb sauce with pasta other than rigatoni, that's totally OK! When it comes to pasta, you can use long pastas like Fettuccine, Bucatini, Pappardelle, Tagliatelle, etc. if desired.

However, I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. Otherwise, other pastas such as Penne, Paccheri, Orecchiette, etc. are perfect too.

How to Make Homemade Italian Seasoning

If you're thinking about making your own Italian seasoning blend, then look no further! All you need is handful of herbs + spices, mix them together, and wallah! You'll need 2 teaspoons of each simple ingredient:

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
Creamy pasta in a black skillet with a spoon and lemons.

What Will Thicken Pasta Sauce?

It’s important to thicken your pasta sauce so it gets nice and sticky to the pasta itself. Personally, I add just enough liquid to grated parmesan ratio, that doesn't really require a thickener. However, if you find that your sauce is too thin, I love using arrowroot starch (which is a great gluten-free option). However, if you don’t have this on hand, using other subs like all-purpose flour, regular cornstarch, or tapioca flour work just fine.

Just be sure to always stir your thickener with warm water until it becomes a ‘milky’ liquid before adding it to the sauce OR you can add the dry thickener to your skillet with the seasonings, right before adding the liquids, whisking until smooth and thickened.

Adding Protein to this Lemon Garlic Herb Pasta

If you'd like to add protein to this Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta dish, it's easy to do, regardless of your diet!

Plant-based protein options:

  • Crispy seared or baked tofu cubes
  • Crumbled stir-fried seitan
  • Crumble vegan bacon on top
  • Sautéed cauliflower florets or broccoli
  • Sautéed asparagus, Brussels sprouts, etc.

Non-vegan protein options:

  • Chicken (breast sliced)
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Beef
  • Oxtails
  • Fish (fried, jerked, grilled, etc.)
  • etc.

Common Q + A's for this Creamy Pasta Recipe!

How to store leftovers?

Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.

Do I have to use olive oil?

Not at all. For this dish, I love adding olive oil with the butter for additional fat, however, you can totally omit the olive oil and sub with more butter or use
coconut oil or grapeseed oil, instead.

Can I use others greens beside kale?

Of course! To add a bit more flavor to this dish, you can always feel free to add in your favorite greens such as spinach, broccolini, collards, asparagus, etc.

What adds flavor to pasta?

Basically, adding herbs + seasonings will add great flavor to your pasta besides the main ingredients. In addition, using stock adds great flavor as opposed to using water.

Is garlic powder good on pasta?

While I love adding garlic powder to the sauce of my pasta, I usually do this in addition to fresh garlic which gives an explosion of flavor! However, short answer: granulated garlic does the trick too and works great if you don't like garlic pieces in your sauce.

Why do you put lemon juice in pasta?

Overall, lemons are a flavor enhancer just like salt but without all the sodium. A fresh squeeze of lemon brings out the acidity of the sauce and enhances the flavor of the pasta, making the entire dish more savory.

Should I use lemon slices or lemon zest?

Honestly, it's totally up to you. I love adding lemon slices for extra bold flavor in my sauce, however, using 1 teaspoon of lemon zest should add a nice amount of lemony flavor as well!

Can I make this pasta dairy-free or vegan?

Of course! Yes! To make this sauce dairy-free + vegan, simply use vegan butter instead of the regular butter. Then swap the cream with full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. And use your favorite dairy-free cheese shred or dairy-free parmesan instead of regular parmesan. Also, stick with veggie stock.

Can I make this pasta gluten-free?

Yes! You can make this pasta dish gluten-free by swapping the pasta with a GF-friendly one and ensure that the stock being used is GF-friendly as well.

What White Wine is Best in Pasta?

I tend to use a lot of white cooking wine, which is easiest for me. However, I do occasionally add quality white wine to my dishes and I recommend using a dry white wine.

A dry white wine will add the right amount of acidity rather than sweetness, which will better compliment your dish like this Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta. In general, any of the following dry white wines work great in this dish:

Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and dry sparkling wines.

Two bowls of pasta on a black table with forks, lemons, and herbs.

Other Delicious Pasta Recipes You'll Love!

If you are a fan of this Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta, then you will also love these recipes for the entire family:

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Up close shot of pasta in a black bowl with a fork, lemons, and herbs + seasonings.
Deep black skillet filled with creamy pasta.

Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta

June 30, 2023
5 from 3 votes
Weeknight dinners can be homemade, healthy, and fast! Creamy Lemon Garlic Herb Kale Pasta comes together in just 30 minutes and is packed with hearty kale, citrus, and lots of fresh garlic for a real burst of flavor!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients

PASTA:

  • 1 (16 oz.) package Your fave Ribbon-shaped pasta or short-cut pasta (You can also use ANY other pasta shape as desired)

SAUCE:

  • 4 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ cups organic heavy cream
  • 1 cup organic vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsps white cooking wine (You can sub with veggie stock)
  • 1 lemon, freshly-squeezed
  • 1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese (You can also use freshly-grated mozzarella)
  • 1 cup organic kale, de-stemmed + roughly chopped

HERBS + SEASONINGS:

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • ½ lemon, sliced thin

Instructions

COOK THE PASTA:

  • Cook pasta according to packaging. NOTE: Most ribbon pasta shapes cook about the same time as other pastas, usually 8-12 minutes, depending on brand and shape.

TO MAKE THE CREAMY SAUCE:

  • In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once heated and the butter has melted, add the garlic cloves and sauté for 1 minute or so, until fragrant.
  • Add the herbs + seasonings, stirring until combined.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly add in the heavy cream, stock, lemon juice, and white wine, stirring until combined. Let it slightly bubble for 1-2 minutes and then add in the grated parmesan, whisking until fully melted and sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the chopped kale and lemon slices, stirring until combined and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce, tossing until sauce fully coats + sticks to pasta.
  •  Remove from heat and serve immediately with additional grated parmesan atop, if desired.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
  • OIL: You can also use coconut oil or grapeseed oil, instead of olive oil.
  • PASTA: You can use long pastas like Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, Fettuccine, etc. however, I would recommend tossing with tongs to ensure that pasta is fully manageable and fully coated. Otherwise, other pastas such as Penne, Rigatoni, Paccheri, Orecchiette, etc. are perfect.
  • GREENS: To add a bit more flavor to this dish, you can always feel free to add in your favorite greens such as spinach, broccolini, collards, or asparagus.
  • VEGAN OPTION: See the FAQ section for info!
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: See the FAQ section for info!

Nutrition

Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 153mg | Sodium: 1291mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3711IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 365mg | Iron: 2mg

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Xx, Shanika in script writing

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  1. Ok! This was the BEST DISH I have ever made, and I can kinda cook🤭…It is just perfection! I accidentally threw the thinly sliced lemon into the dry spices in the pan ( was supposed to weigh in on that later) it was widely fantastic and I think I will continue that way! I used parpardelle noodles

    • Hi Harper! Wow! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this! It's definitely one of our fave easy go-to's! Yes to Pappardelle---the best with this sauce! Thanks so much! 🙂

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