Rigatoni with pretzel pesto

Rigatoni with Kale & Pretzel Pesto

  • Author: nicoleanndawson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x


Perfectly cooked rigatoni layered in flavor.  This pasta is topped with our creamy, (nut-free, gf) pretzel pesto then sprinkle on crispy kale chips to bring magic to dinner time.



5oz container of  baby kale leaves

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 2 TB

sea salt

1 pound rigatoni (gluten-free if needed)

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1/2 cup basil, fresh (* see notes)

1/4 cup vegan parmesan (Follow Your Heart)

3 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or more Parmesan)

1/2 cup gluten-free pretzels

pepper to taste

handful cherry tomatoes (optional)





Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 350° and have rack in center of oven.

Place half of the kale leaves in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoon olive oil & 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Arrange kale in a single layer, trying not to overlap (grab an extra baking sheet if needed for overflow).  Roast 4-5 minutes then shake pan to redistribute and bake another 4-5 minutes or until leaves are crisp (8-10 total). Remove from oven and set aside.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook until al dente (approx 1 minute less than recommended on box). Drain pasta but reserve 1/2 cup of liquid.

Pretzel Pesto

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add kale other half of kale leaves and sauté a minute before adding garlic slices. Cook until kale is wilted and garlic is fragrant.

In a food processor or high quality blender, toss in basil, vegan parmesan and a pinch of pepper and process or pulse until combined.  Add sautéed kale & garlic blend with the pretzel sticks and blend while drizzling in remaining olive oil. Slowly add in liquid from pasta a little at a time if needed for a more liquid consistency.

If using tomatoes, toss them in the pan and saute for 2 minutes then add cooked pasta with the pesto and combine as you are reheating.  Serve plated and sprinkle with kale chips.


*I freeze my extra basil leaves in a silicone Herb Tray with olive oil. If you use a similar method, you can then use 3 cubes with a full teaspoon of dried basil in place of fresh basil . (I rarely have any on hand but I always have this option). 

**This recipe can easily adapt to using another green in place of kale.  Spinach, Swiss chard, or even Beet Greens can work.  

  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Italian, top 8 free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free
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