n For a quick, easy and awesome meatless Monday dinner, look no further than Kale Pasta with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts. A splash of wine, fresh herbs, and garlic create a quick and delicious pan sauce to coat al dente pasta, heaps of baby kale, and crispy mushrooms. This is a boldly flavored but seriously simple pasta recipe that you’ll love making and eating.
Are y’all ready for a super easy, super fast, family-friendly dinner that’s on the table in less than 30 minutes? I thought so. Kale pasta is a real weeknight winner:
- It relies on baby kale, which is both sweeter and more palatable in a pasta dish, and cooks super fast.
- The hardest part is waiting for the mushrooms to properly brown.
- You get to cook with wine, which is an excuse to have some with dinner, if you need that kind of encouragement.
- It’s super healthy, with lots of plant-based vitamins and minerals. And the meaty mushrooms totally make up for the lack of actual, well, meat.
Wine makes the best pan sauces!
Julia Child famously said “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food”.
Wine is a really easy way to impart deep flavor to most dishes, and I particularly enjoy adding it to vegetarian pasta recipes for an extra layer of complexity.
It adds depth and sweetness to tomato sauce, makes for an excellent braising liquid, and adds subtle acidity to sautéed vegetables. Hands down my favorite way to cook with wine is in a quick pan sauce, like in this kale pasta. I sauté the mushrooms until they are golden brown and crispy, toss in some herbs, and deglaze the whole mess with a few glugs of dry white wine. Instant savory pan sauce with the perfect balance of fat and acidity. Heaven.
How to make crispy pan seared mushrooms
The heft of this kale pasta recipes comes from golden, crispy baby portobello mushrooms. When properly cooked, mushrooms are savory, umami packed wonders that easily take the place of a typical protein. Tossed with a few generous handfuls of baby kale and a simple pan sauce, this becomes such a satisfying pasta dish, you won’t even question that it’s meatless.
Preparing golden brown, perfectly sautéed mushrooms is so easy, but requires a bit of patience. You’ll need a heavy bottomed skillet (I’m a cast iron devotee), fat of your choice (butter, olive oil, etc), and time.
- First, get your skillet nice and hot. Add your fat of choice – I like equal parts butter and oil. Butter for flavor, and oil to help prevent the butter from burning.
- Add a handful of mushrooms to the hot fat, taking care not to overcrowd the pan (overcrowding leads to steaming, not crisping). Toss the mushrooms to coat in the fat, and then wait. Sear the mushrooms undisturbed until they’re browned and crispy. Flip them, and repeat.
- Once the first batch is finished, push the mushrooms to the edge of the pan and add the next batch. Repeat the sautéing process until all of your mushrooms are perfectly, lovingly sautéed. At the very end, you’ll deglaze with wine and season with salt and herbs.
- Check out my post for Warm Mushroom Salad for all of my sautéed mushroom tips and tricks. You’ll be a mushroom sautéing pro in no time!
Kale pasta recipe notes
Use baby kale for the sake of time – it only takes a minute or two to wilt, and keeps this recipe in the under 30 minute category.
The herbs I potted last month are finally gaining some steam, so I grabbed a few springs of rosemary and sage for this recipe. But don’t limit yourself – lots of fresh herbs will work for here, including thyme, tarragon, oregano, and basil.
A note on seasoning. For pasta dishes, I like to season at the table with flaky table salt (like maldon) and cracked pepper. Feel free to season in the pan, this is simply a personal preference.
I added some toasted pine nuts because I found a stash in the pantry. If you have some, fresh parmesan would be a nice touch as well.
Make it your way
- Make it vegan: use vegan butter
- Make it gluten free: use gluten-free pasta
- Make it carnivorous: add grilled chicken, seared salmon, or pan-seared shrimp. Cook the chicken or salmon separately. For shrimp, add them just after the mushrooms have finished sautéing. Push the mushrooms to the edges of the pan, add a bit more fat, then add the shrimp and sauté until pink, 3-5 minutes depending on size. Then proceed with the remainder of the recipe.
Tips for making this kale pasta perfectly
- Use a short, ridged pasta that will really grab onto the thin, but flavorful, pan sauce.
- Baby kale cooks in just a minute or two, so it keeps this recipe quick (under 30 minutes).
- Good, crispy mushrooms require both time and pan space. Be patient and don’t overcrowd the pan.
- If you prefer not to cook with wine, substitute a half-cup of pasta cooking water.
More (mostly) plant based dinner recipes
- Mushroom Fajita Polenta Bowls
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- Broccoli Pesto over Whole Wheat Shells
- Mushroom Bolognese
- Lemon Orzo with Mushrooms and Asparagus
Did you make this kale pasta recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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Kale Mushroom Pasta with Toasted Pine NutsPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Large Stockpot
- Cast Iron Skillet
- ½ lb whole grain pasta
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh herbs, minced (any combination of rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, oregano, etc.)
- ½ c. dry white wine
- 2 big handfuls baby kale
- ½ lemon, juiced
- maldon salt, to taste, for garnish
- cracked black pepper, to taste, for garnish
- ¼ c. toasted pine nuts, for garnish
- In a large stock pot, bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tbsp kosher salt and boil the pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta water is coming to a boil and the pasta cooks, prepare the vegetables and pan sauce.
- Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet (like cast iron) over medium high heat. Add the butter and avocado oil and heat until the butter foams and subsides.
- Add about a third of the mushrooms to the pan and toss to coat in the fat. Saute the mushrooms, undisturbed, until browned and crispy. Flip and saute on the other side.
- Once the first batch is finished, push the mushrooms to the edges of the pan, add a bit more fat if the pan is dry, add the next batch of mushrooms, and repeat the sautéing process. Continue until all the mushrooms are sautéd, 15-20 minutes.
- Push all mushrooms to the edges of the pan. Add another teaspoon of butter or oil to the center of the pan, and add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the minced herbs and a pinch of salt over the mushrooms and stir everything together. Sauté, stirring continuously, until the herbs are fragrant, but still bright, 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the wine* (see notes) over the mushrooms and herbs. After the initial fizzle, add the kale to the pan and sauté with the mushrooms and pan sauce until the kale barely wilts, 1- 2 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the mushrooms, kale, and pan sauce immediately. Dress with the juice from ½ a lemon. Divide onto 4 plates and garnish with salt, pepper, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.
- I love using my 10" Lodge cast iron skillet for sautéing mushrooms (and everything else!). It's excellent at retaining heat, which translates to super crisp mushrooms every time. A well-loved cast iron pan will last a lifetime, so it's totally worth the small investment.
- If you prefer not to cook with wine, substitute ½ cup pasta cooking water.
- Storage: store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.