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Kale & Sunflower Pesto Pasta

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

GF DF VG option

Serves 3

Who doesn't love spaghetti!?

While it is super delicious and a great comforting winter food, in Australia wheat-based pasta are often heavily refined, low in nutritional value, and can cause elevated blood sugar, insulin, and gastrointestinal irritation, discomfort and bloating. In some people this can lead to further unwanted symptoms such as brain fog, joint pain, irritability, depression, anxiety, PMS, diarrhoea, and constipation.

There are now many alternatives that serve as pastas but are more nutritious and have less of a negative impact on blood sugar, gastrointestinal health, and overall inflammatory levels in the body. Gluten-free options made from quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, or legumes are my favourites as they are a source of plant-based protein, great for keeping you fuller for longer rather than bloated and lethargic with a side of underlying inflammation.

Steer clear of gluten free pasta alternatives made from 100% white rice or corn.


10 tuscan kale leaves, stems removed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, lightly roasted

1/2 cup olive oil, for pesto

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, for roasting sunflower seeds

3 cloves garlic

4 large Roma tomatoes OR 1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Black pepper to taste, ground

Juice of 1 orange

Unrefined salt (e.g. Celtic sea salt, Himalayan pink salt)

8 anchovies in olive oil* optional. Remove for vegan option

1 cup water


Pesto preparation

1. Pre-heat fan forced oven to 170°C

2. Place quartered Roma tomatoes (or whole cherry tomatoes) on an oven tray and roast for 20 minutes or until golden.

3. In a bowl add sunflower seeds and coat with1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. Spread evenly on a baking paper-lined oven tray and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

4. Strip leaves from kale stems (stems can be kept in the fridge or freezer to use in stocks and broths).

5. Add 1 cup water to a pot or pan and turn on to a medium heat.

6. Add kale leaves and once the water is simmering turn off the heat, place a lid on the pan and allow the leaves to wilt. Remove the leaves once they are dark green and flexible.

7. In a bullet (or blender, food processor, or use a stick mixer, whatever you have) add wilted kale, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, olive oil, sunflower seeds, two generous pinches of salt, ground black pepper to taste, and the juice of one orange. Blend until mixture forms a wet paste*

Making the pasta

1. In a large pot bring water to the boil. Once simmering add pasta and a pinch of salt. Allow to cook for up to 15 minutes, or until al dente, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Drain.

2. On low heat, place strained pasta back into the pot. Add pesto, roasted tomatoes, anchovies* optional, and stir gently until evenly combined and heated.

3. Serve hot.


* If your processor is having trouble add water by the teaspoon until mixture blends easily.

* Extra nutritional yeast is a great substitute for cheese as it has a 'cheesy', tangy, and salty flavour. It can be added to serve for extra taste.


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