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Pasta recipes

Kale pesto pasta with foraged greens plus other meal prep lunch ideas

Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 15 minutes
serves 4 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed

Published October 6 2019
Updated August 9 2021


Kale pesto
2 cups kale, stems removed
12 cup walnuts
12 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and pepper to taste
Pasta salad
pasta to serve
8 cups seasonal greens
12 cup olives pitted
4 tbsp pumpkin, sesame or hemp seeds
1 avocado, optional to serve
vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast to serve


To prepare the pesto place the kale, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine until the mixture is coarsely ground. With the motor running add the remaining ingredients and pulse until you reach your desired consistency. You might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add 3-4 tablespoons of coarse sea salt. Add in your pasta and stir for the first few minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking.

Place a lid back on your pot and bring the water back to a boil. This helps avoid mushy pasta. Once the water is boiling again, remove the lid for the remaining cook time. Stir the pasta.

For cook time, follow the package directions. We used packaged pasta here since as we wanted a specific gluten-free pasta which we cannot purchase in bulk. If you have purchased in bulk, cook for approximately 8 minutes until al dente. You might need to test your pasta a few times, it should be firm to the bite yet cooked through.

Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and loosely drain the pasta. Do not rinse.

Add your pasta back into the pot and stir through the pesto to thoroughly coat. Add in the salad leaves and olives. Divide between bowls if serving immediately or into glass storage containers. Top with hemp seeds, avocado and vegan Parmesan or nutritional yeast.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, they will keep for up to 3 days.

This pasta pesto recipe is one of my favourite bowls to prepare, the kale pesto and greens are driven by the seasons. It's dinner, lunch the next day, perfect for meal prep — for tossing together for a quick, nourishing meal in no time. This meal combines many of my clear skin foods, in particular, kale and walnuts which contain sulfur and a huge serving of antioxidant-loaded greens that are so vital to skin vibrancy. Avocado delivers nourishing fats and vitamin E, hemp seeds, zinc and Omegas. I always keep a large jar of nutritional yeast in the pantry, and it is used to add flavour, minerals, and B complex vitamins to everything. Because of its nutty, cheese-like taste, it’s the ticket to a good plant-based pesto. This pasta keeps perfectly for up to 3 days, so it’s a favourite for prepping ahead if I know I’ll be home late.

An alternative to meal prep

Even without the convenience, for the longest time, I have been a daily food shopper­ because I primarily work from home. That and so much of what I do revolves around food­. Before freelancing my full-time role saw me styling and photographing recipes two days per week, for me, this was accidental meal prep. Full-blown meal-prep is not for me, though I completely understand the convenience appeal.

That said there are certain staples I always have on hand. My fridge space usually has prepared grains, legumes, loads of hummus, pesto or ferments for quick salad bowls or pasta dishes. I never used to be, but now I am also big on repurposing leftovers. And now about to take on a contract role which will require me to be on-site three days per week, I’ll have to organise myself to take lunch each day. So I’ll be getting back in the habit of lite meal prep. I have the foundations. Here I’ll go through my approach to lunch prep and a few overall tips for lunchtime satisfaction — for saving time and money without sacrificing the ability to deeply nourish yourself.

Find your meal prep vessel

For me, it’s 4-cup Pyrex containers for holding lunch, dinners, more substantial meals. These are glass and come with nicely fitting lids. I prefer glass and opt to avoid plastic for food storage. For smaller meals, though I am quite partial to these Luminarc glass jars which come with a simple tight-fitting lid. For hummus and oats, I use mason jars or recycled kitchen jars which are leak proof. I use a lot of Le Parfait wide mouth mason jars.

Simple lunch meal prep ideas

Day 1

I’ll make poke bowl with short brown rice with rice vinegar and seaweed mixed through. Topped with edamame, avocado, sesame seeds and kimchi this meal has everything I want in a mid-day meal. And when preparing your own kimchi this meal is relatively inexpensive and incredibly adaptable to the seasons. Later in the day, I’ll have several Medjool dates which pack a healthy dose of fibre, vitamins, minerals.

Day 2

This pasta salad with kale pesto is ridiculously satisfying and is one of my partner’s favourite dishes. It is made semi-frequently, served with a lot of extras greens, smoked vegan Parmesan, nutritional yeast. For something later in the day I’ll either have Tom and Luke Snack Balls (I find these too laborious to prepare myself) or half a Little Bird Organics Hazelnut Cookie.

Day 3

I don’t eat out much and don’t order in food so there are always opportunities for leftovers. One meal I find particularly quick to throw together is a cauliflower chickpea curry. You'll find that recipe in our free ebook here. This is simply sulfur-rich cauliflower combined with chickpeas, canned tomatoes and anti-inflammatory spices. I’ll usually add a heaped tablespoon of hummus, ferments if I have them, sauerkraut or kimchi and sunflower seeds. If I need something mid-afternoon, I’ll opt for either Tom and Luke Snack Balls or some almonds. Though, having said that, I think I’ll pick up on my apple a day habit.

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