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Garlic Kale Pasta

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This pasta recipe features a super simple kale and garlic base with a slightly spicy kick!

I’ve been on a bit of a spice craze lately (exhibit a: spicy shrimp). And a pasta craze (exhibit b: baked feta pasta). And by lately, I mean the past 10 years, but especially now.

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    This kale pasta has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years. And I have no idea why I’m just now sharing it?? But better late than never, right?

    spicy kale pasta on fork close up

    You may have noticed a theme on this blog of quick and easy, and this pasta seriously delivers! I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a new family favorite for you as well!

    spicy kale pasta ingredients

    Garlic kale pasta ingredients:

    • spaghetti: I find spaghetti tastes best here (the shapes make it taste different, okay!?) But you can use any shape pasta you like
    • kale: no substitutions here!
    • olive oil: for sautéing
    • garlic: the recipe calls for 4 to 5 cloves, so that does depend on how much you like garlic. I feel like I eat so much garlic that I’m almost desensitized to it’s flavor, so I always add extra
    • red pepper flakes: this is also to taste, depending on your heat preference
    • Parmesan cheese: freshly grated only, please! It makes a difference
    • salt: to taste

    How to make garlic kale pasta:

    1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some pasta water for the sauce, and drain.
    2. Sauté garlic in olive oil. The garlic should be softened and fragrant (it’ll take about 1 minute).
    3. Add kale, salt, and a splash of pasta water. Cover and cook the kale until wilted.
    4. Add red pepper flakes and parmesan. Toss until the cheese is melted.
    5. Add pasta. Toss to combine.

    spicy kale pasta topped with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes overhead (1) (1)

    If you liked this garlic kale pasta, check out some of these other pasta recipes!

    viral baked feta pasta
    tomato & mushroom pasta
    penne alla vodka
    macaroni salad
    cheesy lasagna rolls

    Garlic Kale Pasta Recipe

    This pasta recipe features a super simple kale and garlic base with a slightly spicy kick!
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 15 minutes
    Servings 4 to 6 people


    • 8 ounces spaghetti
    • 2 to 3 large bunches of kale (about 1 & 1/2 pounds or 4 packed cups of leaves)
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
    • red pepper flakes, to taste (I added 1/2 a teaspoon)
    • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
    • salt, to taste


    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (you may not need all of it, but it's best to have extra!) Drain your pasta, and set aside.
    • Pull the kale leaves off their stems, and roughly chop the leaves. Wash the leaves well, drain, and set aside.
    • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic, and sauté for about 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant (but not browned!!)
    • Add the kale to the skillet, along with a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Cover your skillet and cook on medium heat until the kale is wilted (about 2 to 4 minutes).
    • Uncover, turn off the heat, and add red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan. Toss together until the cheese is melted and everything is incorporated. Add your cooked pasta and toss again to combine. (Optional) Top with more cheese and red pepper flakes!


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