Monday, September 10, 2012

Recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Pesto Vinaigrette

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Pesto Vinaigrette
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta and Pesto Vinaigrette!

This recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta and Pesto Vinaigrette was something that started out as a complete experiment when I was cooking with my nephew Jake and we'd just gotten some Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli in the mail from  I'm such a fan of the Garofalo Whole Wheat Spaghetti that I've been using for a few years now, that I couldn't wait to experiment with this new whole wheat pasta shape.  (And if you've been disappointed by other whole wheat pastas, I can assure you that this Italian whole wheat pasta tastes great!)  Jake and I experimented with some kale from the garden and other ingredients we had on hand, and this delicious pasta salad was the happy result!

I think of mayo-free pasta salads like this one as more of a main dish than some pasta salads, and I use less pasta and more other ingredients for a more low-glycemic dish.  I enjoyed this for dinner the night we made it, and now I'm recommending it to you for a Meatless Monday dinner or lunch idea.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.) 

This is the Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli that came in the mail and inspired the recipe!

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water for exactly 11 minutes and then drain well.

While the pasta cooks, chop up the kale leaves and wash in a salad spinner (if needed.)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with high sides, and add the kale pieces all at once.

Stir-fry the kale, turning often, just until it's wilted and slightly tender.  This only takes 2-3 minutes.

Mix the lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, pesto, and olive oil to make the dressing.

When the pasta is drained, stir about half the dressing into the still slightly-warm pasta.  Let it sit while you cut up the olives and tomatoes and crumble the feta.

Stir the fried kale into the pasta.

Then gently stir in the tomatoes and olives.  Add more dressing as needed, depending on how moist you like your salads. 

Finally, gently stir in the crumbled Feta, season the salad to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve.

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Pesto Vinaigrette
(Makes 4-6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn, with suggestions from Jake.)

8 oz. Garofalo Whole Wheat Fusilli, or other whole wheat pasta of your choice
1 tsp. salt (for pasta cooking water)
6-8 oz. kale leaves, coarsely chopped
1 T olive oil (for stir-frying the kale)
1 cup cherry tomato halves
1 can (6 oz.) black olives, drained and cut in half
1/4 cup crumbled Feta

Dressing Ingredients:
1 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 T white balsamic vinegar, or other mild white vinegar
2-3 T pesto (I used my Basil Pesto with Lemon)
2 T olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to a low boil and cook for exactly 11 minutes (or according to package directions if you're using a different type of pasta.)  Drain pasta into a colander placed in the sink and let it drain well.

While the pasta cooks, chop up the kale leaves (cutting away the inner ribs if they're large), and wash kale in a salad spinner if needed.  Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan with high sides, add the kale all at once, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the kale has wilted and is starting to get tender.  (It should still be a little chewy but not raw tasting.)  Turn off pan and let the kale cool.

Mix together the fresh-squeezed lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and pesto, then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.  (Start with 2 T pesto and then taste to see if you'd like to add the other tablespoon for more pesto flavor.)  

When the pasta has drained well but is still warm, transfer it to a bowl and stir in about half the dressing.  Let the pasta sit while you cut cherry tomatoes and olives and crumble the feta.

Stir the cooled kale into the pasta in the bowl.  Add the tomatoes and olives and gently combine; then add more dressing as desired (depending on how moist you like your salads.)  If you don't use all the dressing save it for drizzling over tomatoes or to perk up any leftover salad.  Gently stir in the crumbled Feta, season salad to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve.

I usually don't like to refrigerate salads with tomatoes, but this was still quite good the second day.

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South Beach Suggestions:
With the whole wheat pasta I used, or other types of whole wheat pasta or Dreamfields Pasta, this salad would be approved for Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  To keep the salad as low-glycemic as possible,  I use a smaller amount of pasta in comparison with the other ingredients than many pasta salads.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Meatless Pasta Salads:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Karina's Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad from Gluten-Free Goddess
Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Kale, Chickpeas, Lemon, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Beans, Capers, & Balsamic Yogurt Dressing from Cookin' Canuck
Pasta Salad with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Zucchini, and Basil from Kalyn's Kitchen 
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad from Macheesmo
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)  

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon! counter customizable free hit


  1. Garofalo is my favorite brand of whole wheat pasta also! My grandmother's maiden name is actually Garofalo so it always reminds me of her side of the family when I eat it. :) I love all the veggies you've mixed into here!

  2. The stir-fried kale is such a nice touch. Whole wheat pasta salads, with a light vinaigrette, become one of our go-to meals this summer. This is one to add to the list!

  3. Joanne, I love hearing that! What a fun connection.

    Thanks Pam, me too!

    Thanks Dara. I am loving whole wheat pasta salads here too!

  4. Kale is one of my favorite greens to eat with pasta--it stands up so well to all the robust Italian flavors I love. Beautiful rendition!

  5. Thanks Eileen, so glad you like it!

  6. This looks really delicious and I have all the ingredients to hand. I think I know what's for lunch today!

  7. wow Kalyn! this pasta is great! tried it out, it was a hit.

  8. Love how healthy this salad is with sauteed kale and whole wheat pasta - this would make a great meatless meal any day of the week.

  9. tandcake, hope you enjoy it!

    makeityum swati, so glad you liked it!

    Thanks Jeanette. I would love this for a whole meal, even dinner!

  10. This sounds fantastic. I bet the pesto vinaigrette really makes it. I even have a little kale and a few ripe tomatoes in the garden, something that rarely happens at the same time. It's a sign! :)

  11. I will have to look for this pasta. You got me hooked on Dreamfields years ago!

    This salad looks tasty. Haven't seen kale much at the farm market lately.

  12. Mimi, this pasta is great. Lots of kale here; wish I could give you some.

  13. I love this pasta--I buy it at Costco. I think the flavor is especially great with hearty greens (and feta or blue cheese!). And I do the same as you and usually aim for a 50-50 split of veggies and pasta. I like the idea of lightening up a pesto with vinegar and lemon--I'm going to try that next time!

  14. Emmy I'm so jealous if you can get this at your Costco. Ours has the whole wheat spaghetti, but only the white flour pasta for the other shapes. Glad you like the recipe!


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