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This Kale Pesto Lasagna recipe is a delicious way to add some healthy greens into your family’s diet. Kale pesto cooks along with noodles, plenty of cheese and garlic for some serious green comfort food! A vegetarian lasagna recipe. Originally published in 2016, updated in 2020 with new step by step photos. If you want to get right to the recipe Click here to jump down to the recipe card. You can also jump to our wine pairing suggestions–the recipe card follows right after that.
When I was working on the Collards & Kale cookbook, I was always looking for creative ways to get some healthy greens on the plate. I recalled a tasty green lasagna in The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen, that calls for basil pesto and spinach. I figured I could double up on the greens by using a similar method, with kale pesto and another green. (included the Amazon link above to the classic vegetarian cookbook from the author of Moosewood).
“One of my favorite recipes you make!” Jodi said of this pesto lasagna recipe. And she has sampled pretty much everything on Cooking Chat!
You could certainly make this recipe with basil pesto instead of kale pesto if you prefer.
Making Kale Pesto Lasagna
Here are some tips on making kale pesto lasagna Click here to jump down to the recipe card to get the complete step by step instructions.
What greens to use?
The first time I made this Kale Pesto Lasagna, I used dandelion greens for the ricotta mixture, and really liked the touch of bitterness these greens provided, as it made a nice contrast with the cheese. Dandelion greens seem to be more seasonal, so you might need to swap in another green.
I have successfully used mizuna greens, Tuscan kale and regular kale as well. This is a great recipe to try if you get a farmshare and have some greens on hand you’re not sure what to do with! If you try a different green in this Kale Pesto Lasagna, please let me know how it turns out.
No boil lasagna or traditional noodles?
I like the convenience of no boil lasagna noodles; it’s just one less step you need to do to make this dish. But if you do want to use the traditional lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, get the noodles cooking as you make the kale pesto and prepare the ricotta mixture. Rinse the cooked noodles in cold water and drain thoroughly to minimize the noodles clinging together.
If you are using the no boil noodles, you need to break them into shapes to fit the contours of your pan and cover the open spots. Also, be sure to cover the top layer of noodles with enough sauce so the noodles come out moist rather than crispy.
Steps for putting the lasagna together
- Start by making the kale pesto. For tips for making kale pesto and other ideas for using it, visit this article on kale pesto.
- As the oven preheats, mix the ricotta with 1 cup kale pesto, the chopped greens, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the 4 cloves of minced garlic, and the pumpkin seeds. Stir the mixture until the greens, pesto and other ingredients are well distributed throughout the ricotta cheese, as shown below.
- Arrange a layer of noodles to cover the bottom of the baking dish, as shown below.
- Add half of the ricotta mixture to cover the first layer of noodles, so that that the noodles are completely covered with the cheese. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta.
- Create a 2nd layer of noodles followed by ricotta and mozzarella, repeating the process above.
- Cover the 2nd layer of cheese with a final layer of the noodles. Spread the remaining pesto over the final layer of noodles, using the back of a tablespoon to move the pesto around so that there is at least a little bit coating all of the noodles. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the pesto, and you are ready to cover and bake the lasagna!
Wine Pairing for Kale Pesto Lasagna
I tend to gravitate toward whites to go with dishes featuring pesto, but with all the cheese baked into this dish, an Italian red wine is my preferred choice. A Dolcetto from the Piedmont area of Italy can be a very good pairing for this pesto lasagna. If you can find one from Anna Maria Abbona, she is definitely my favorite producer of Dolcetto. A Chianti can also work with this dish.
Speaking of wines from the Piedmont, I had a Barolo waiting patiently in the cellar for a couple months after picking it up at the fall grand tasting at Pairings Wine & Food. I decided to give the 2011 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo ($45, 14.5% ABV) a try with the lasagna. Not a classic pairing for Barolo, but this is an excellent bottle of wine, and it worked reasonably well with the lasagna.
That said, my recommendation would be to stick with the Dolcetto for the lasagna, but do treat yourself to a bottle of this Barolo if you come across it! Pair the Barolo with something like this mushroom risotto recipe for best results.
When remaking our kale pesto lasagna on a cold winter day in January 2018, we opened the 2013 Rosso del Ripalte Toscana Alicante ($24, 13%) a lean, medium bodied red wine from Elba. I really like this wine, and it pairs nicely with the kale pesto lasagna.
Off the beaten path wine options
Fairly common wines like Dolcetto and Chianti are solid wine pairing options for the lasagna. But I do love branching out and trying new grapes–and Italy has hundreds of grape varietals!
The Wine Pairing Weekend group will be exploring interesting wine grapes next weekend. That made it the perfect time to open some interesting wine to try with the kale pesto lasagna.
I covered the new wines in more detail for the #winePW event, but I will just say that the 2016 Ricardi Reale Neccio ($28, 14.5%), made from biodynamically produced Cesanase grapes, was excellent! Black pepper on the nose, raspberry fruit and a silky mouthfeel. A touch of vanilla on the finish. Reminds me a bit of a high quality Pinot. Enjoyable to sip on its own, it paired quite well with our lasagna.
Kale Pesto Lasagna
Kale Pesto Lasagna is a delicious way to add some healthy greens into your family’s diet. Kale pesto cooks with plenty of cheese, noodles and garlic for some serious comfort food.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: Italian
KALE PESTO INGREDIENTS
- 4 cups tightly packed kale leaves, stems removed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
- generous pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
OTHER LASAGNA INGREDIENTS
- 2 lbs low fat ricotta cheese
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups of greens such as kale, dandelion or mizuna greens, stemmed and chopped.
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
- salt/pepper to taste
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 1 package no cook lasagna noodles — or cooked traditional noodles, see notes for more information.
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Make the kale pesto: Add the kale and garlic to a food processor, coarsely chopping to create enough room for the other ingredients. Next add the pumpkin seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cheese, and olive oil, and puree until it comes to a nice smooth consistency. Set the pesto aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350.
- Mix the ricotta: Empty the ricotta cheese into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the greens, 1 cup kale pesto, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the 4 cloves of minced garlic, and the pumpkin seeds.
- First noodle layer: Spray a deep baking dish with oil spray. Place a layer of noodles on the bottom of the pan. If using no bake noodles, break up the noodles to fill open spaces around the bottom of the pan.
- Add ricotta and cheese: Spread half of the the ricotta mixture over the noodles. The noodles should be all covered with the cheese. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the top of the ricotta mixture.
- 2nd layer: Add a layer of noodles over the cheese to cover it. Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over this 2nd layer of noodles, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the the ricotta.
- Finish lasagna prep: Cover the cheese with a final layer of noodles. Spread the remaining pesto across the noodles, trying to get a bit of pesto on as much of the noodles as you can. This helps the noodles to come out softer. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top of the pesto.
- Bake the lasagna: Cover the lasagna and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 20 minutes. Check after about 10 minutes of baking uncovered, you want the top to brown a bit, put the cover back on if it looks like it is browned enough for your liking.
- Serve and enjoy: Remove lasagna from the oven after 50 minutes total cooking time and serve nice and hot.
- I buy an 8 oz package of mozzarella cheese for this recipe, but you will have some leftover after using 1 cup.
- If using traditional lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, get the noodles cooking as you make the kale pesto and prepare the ricotta mixture. Rinse the cooked noodles in cold water and drain thoroughly to minimize the noodles clinging together.
- If you are using the no boil noodles, you need to break them into shapes to fit the contours of your pan and cover the open spots. Also, be sure to cover the top layer of noodles with enough sauce so the noodles come out moist rather than crispy.
- You probably won’t need the whole package of no boil lasagna noodles.
Keywords: kale pesto, pesto lasagna, vegetarian lasagna
Want to try kale pesto in a dish that is a little bit lighter? Check out our Ziti with Kale Pesto and Roasted BroccoliZiti with Kale Pesto and Roasted Broccoli recipe!