Pecan Pesto Pasta with Kale Salad

The Wife with a Knife


Description: This dish is a crowd pleaser and great for a dinner party! The pecan pesto is a delicious spin on traditional pesto, and the polenta croutons on the kale salad are a fun substitution for croutons.
$ 59.38
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: 6
Time: 50 m (20 m prep, 30 m cook)

(Ingredients and measurements subject to availability)


  1. 1 box of rigatoni pasta
  2. 2 stalks broccoli
  3. 2 cups of basil
  4. 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 cup olive oil*
  7. 1 tsp. salt*
  8. ½ tsp. pepper*
  9. ¼ c. toasted pecans
  10. 2 lbs. of ground turkey
  11. 1 tbs. Italian seasoning

Kale Salad:

  1. 2 bunches kale, stalks removed, chiffonaded (pretty sure that’s not a word)
  2. 1/2 butternut squash, cubed
  3. 1/2 tube of polenta (you’ve seen it before in the pasta aisle), cubed
  4. 1 tbs. olive oil*, mixed with juice of half a lemon
  5. 10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded
  6. 1 tbs. olive oil*

Salad Dressing:

  1. 2 tbs. olive oil*
  2. 2 tbs. water*
  3. 1 tbs. Tahini
  4. 1 tbs. Dijon mustard
  5. Juice of half a lemon
  6. 1 tsp. honey
  7. Fresh black pepper to taste*
  8. 2 cloves garlic

*Not provided:
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Sheet pan
Pasta pot
Food processor



  1. Preheat your oven to 400
  2. Steam your broccoli. I infuse my water with a little bit of crushed garlic and lemon and steam in a steamer basket, but you can just do a regular steam on the stovetop or microwave. Set the broccoli aside for later.
  3. Cook your pasta according to the box directions, minus one minute.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto. Toast your nuts and let them cool. In a food processor, combine the basil, 2 cloves of garlic, parmesan, nuts salt, pepper and drizzle the oil in. Once the pesto is done, set aside.
  5. Combine the turkey and Italian seasoning. Heat 1 tbs. olive in a large pan. Add the turkey and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until done. Since ground turkey has very little fat, I don’t drain the meat—you would want to drain if you used a different meat.
  6. Drain your pasta, but make sure you save 1.5 cups of the water that you cooked the pasta in (chef’s secrets!) and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Spread out on a sheet pan. Put it in the oven for 8 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. This gives the pasty a nutty flavor and a great texture!
  7. Combine everything together, including the pasta water, and enjoy! I add lots of crushed red pepper and a bit of parmesan!

Kale Salad:

  1. First, make the dressing by blending all the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Toss butternut squash with 1 tbs. of olive oil and salt and pepper, and roast for 25 minutes until tender and a little golden—making sure to stir during cooking.
  4. While the squash roasts, heat a nonstick skillet with 1 tbs. olive oil
  5. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add in the cubed polenta and sauté until crispy (you will have to judge this by sight—all pans/temps cook differently!) Mine were about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Toss the squash with the kale and chopped basil and dress with whatever amount of dressing you prefer. Top with polenta croutons.

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