Creamy Vegan Kale Pesto Rigatoni

With Crispy Brussel Sprouts & Sundried Tomatoes

This is the best vegan pesto rigatoni – it’s garlicky and completely delicious. Talk about pesto with a kick and no Parmesan cheese required!

You’ll make this recipe in a couple times a month and it’s usually gone within a day or two! The recipe is well-balanced, with the savory and herby elements of garlic and basil, nuttiness from the almonds, and earthiness from the kale. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to throw together!

I love it when you can achieve big flavors with minimal effort.

Kale Pesto Rigatoni

Nicole Kearsley
In the dead of winter, all I dream about is spring – green, fresh, and flavorful things to get me through. Like this super-vibrant, super-green kale pesto!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Vegan
Servings 2 Servings


  • 6 ounces Brussels Sprouts
  • 6 ounces Whole Wheat Rigatoni
  • 1 bunch Basil Fresh
  • 4 ounces Curly Kale
  • 2 ounces Scallion Cashew Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Almonds
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Chile Flakes
  • 1 1/2 ounces Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • 9 1/2 teaspoons Olive Oil 3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
  • 1 teaspoon Salt & Pepper To taste


  • Preheat the oven to 450 °F (233 °C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the rigatoni. Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and peel off and reserve as many leaves as you can. 
  • Add the leaves and cores to a baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast Brussels until crispy and brown in places, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the whole wheat rigatoni to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Return rigatoni to the pot off of the heat and stir in 1/2 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Pick the basil leaves. Destem the kale. Add basil leaves, kale leaves, scallion cashew cheese, almonds, garlic, red chile flakes, reserved pasta water, and 2 tbsp olive oil to a food processor. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper and blend pesto until smooth.
  • Add most of the roasted Brussels sprouts and sun-dried tomatoes (reserving a small amount for garnish) to the rigatoni in the large pot.
  • Add the kale pesto and stir to combine. Return the pot to medium heat and stir the pesto rigatoni until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Divide pesto rigatoni between large plates or bowls. Top with the reserved sun-dried tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. 


NO RULES: Use whatever pasta you have on hand!
*PASTA: When you use wholegrain penne it’s best if you’ll use pine nuts instead of almonds as pine nuts are traditionally used in pesto.
**ALMONDS: Walnuts can be a workable stand-in for almonds here. Pine nuts will also work well.
***ON BASIL: Substitute a smaller quantity of Italian parsley, or omit the basil and cook the kale mixture for a little bit longer.
Keyword plant based, vegan
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