Using Kale Stems and Eating More Pasta Sauce

When I tell people that I don’t eat pasta, I often get the “What DO you eat?” look. When someone actually asks the question, I gladly indulge in the opportunity to have a conversation about food.
It’s not that I dislike the taste. It’s okay. The actual pasta just doesn’t really do anything for me except leave behind the heavy, sleepy, nap-time feeling. Considering that it has very little nutritional value (or negative value, depending on who you ask), it’s just not worth it for me. I do, however, love Italian flavours and sauces and it was time to start experimenting with other ways to feed myself delicious pasta sauce. For the past couple of years, I’ve been topping roasted eggplants, shaved zucchini and carrots, squash, and sauteed mushrooms (not all at once) with sauces of all sorts. The veggies have so much more flavour than pasta and when paired with an appropriate sauce, actually add a lot to the dish. They don’t taste like substitutes.

Today’s special is a shaved carrot “pasta” with a kale-parsley pesto and balsamic currant sauce. It’s garnished with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley, and shaved parmesan.

Pesto is a great place to make use of any left-over kale stems. Although they don’t add a lot of flavour, they’re super nutritious and shouldn’t be wasted. If you don’t have any around, feel free to use more parsley or another combination.

kale stem pesto

Kale Stem and Parsley Pesto
  • 2 cups combined kale stems and parsley (with stems)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  1. Combine kale, parsley, nuts, parmesan, and garlic a food processor and pulse several times to finely chop.
  2. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt to taste.
Makes about 2 cups.

carrot pasta

Carrot “pasta” with a pesto, balsamic, and currant sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. dried currants
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. kale-parsley pesto
  • a few good pinches of salt, to taste
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • shaved parmesan
  • parsley leaves, finely chopped
  1. Combine dried currants and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to soak.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and place on high heat.
  3. While it heats, shave the carrots with a vegetable peeler. Set aside and prepare the garnishes.
  4. In a small sauce pan, on low-medium heat, gently start warming the olive oil. Stir in the pesto.
  5. Add the currents, balsamic vinegar, and salt and continue stirring on low-medium heat until the mixture is hot, but not bubbling. T
  6. aste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
  7. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the carrots and cook for about 45 seconds. They should be slightly softened but not breaking apart. Drain the water.
  8. Toss carrots with the balsamic pesto sauce.
  9. Divide between plates and garnish with the pine nuts, parmesan, and parsley.
Makes 2 servings.

Leave a Reply



  1. Just found your site….. love it! Gorgeous pics- can’t wait to try out this carrot pasta. xx

  2. Wow – I´m so happy that you posted that sweet sweet comment on Earthsprout! I am blown away by your creativity and how beautifully this site has come together! <3 Simply amazing! I´ll return for sure!

  3. Amy

    This is awesome! I always feel so wasteful throwing out my kale stems. Also, I’ve only used spaghetti squash for an alternative to pasta, but now feel like I can branch out into carrots and other veggies! And great photos :)

  4. mars

    Love your website and this awesome carrot pasta recipe! Thank you!

  5. Sofia,

    For some reason, I’m unable to access your email via your blog. I work for Family Features Editorial Syndicate, which owns and would love to feature this recipe on our food blog. Please contact me at for further information. Love the blog!

    Sarah Aylward

  6. Olivia

    I’m a new fan to your blog and I am blown away! Your photos and creative twist on nutritious food are amazing. Like you, I’m a health foodie so I think I might find myself on this website a lot.

    I was sad to throw away a big bag of kale stalks currently in my fridge so finding this recipe made my day. So excited to try, thanks !


  7. I was really trying to use up my parsley stems, so I was excited to come across your post. Unfortunately, I was silly enough to use parsley stems only (no leaves or kale stems), so my version turned out to be very difficult to eat (very fibrous), but it smelt fantastic!

    • Sofia

      Too bad it didn’t work out! I hope you can still try using the pesto in a cooked dish, where the stems can soften. I haven’t tried a “stem only” pesto, so thanks for letting me know that it doesn’t work.

  8. Melissa

    Holy COW – after literally licking clean the pan I made this in, I had to leave a comment. This dish looks beautiful and is so full of flavor. The pesto, balsamic, and sweet currants are a concoction to die for. I subbed two small zucchini for two of the carrots. I made them into thin noodles using my mandoline and a knife. This was my first time ever making a “non basil” pesto, and I had a bag of baby kale leaves, and used that instead of stems. Total win. I’m trying to keep away from rest, which I’m saving for leftovers tomorrow.

    • Sofia

      Hi Melissa! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and thank you for taking the time to comment :) I’ll have to try it with the carrot/zucchini combo for sure.

  9. Eve

    Sofia, can you recommend a substitute for the parmesan – I’m vegan? Thanks!

    • Sofia

      Hi Eve, you can probably leave out the Parmesan from the pesto and sprinkle the pasta with nutritional yeast. I haven’t tried it in this recipe, but it tastes kind of cheesy and I know it’s a common parm substitute. Hope that helps :)

  10. Suze

    Wow! Just harvested the last of the parsley and kale from my garden, did a search for Pesto and found your site. Never been here but am a fan already. Had the pesto with quinoa on a bed of spinach, glass of red wine. I’m in veggie heaven! Will be back often!!

    • Sofia

      Your veggie heaven sounds delicious! So glad to hear that you enjoyed the pesto :) Thanks for visiting, Suze!

  11. Lynne

    Hi Sofia, I made this today after a google search “what to do with kale stems” after I made my chips. I’m so glad I picked your blog. It was wonderful. I’ll definately do it again. I’m so looking forward to a few more of your recipes; banana smoothie bowl, and your choco-coco bars. I’ll wait for your response on that question, regardless of when I get to make them. I have a squash calling me…thanks again. I’m grateful I came across your blog. Love it!

  12. Donna Matthews

    Hi Sofia,
    Loved the Carrot Pasta with Kale Pesto.
    Could you post the calorie intake and possibly the fats?
    Keep them coming!!!

    • Sofia

      Thanks for reading, Donna!
      To be honest, I’ve never calculated the nutritional information – I think that good quality ingredients are more important than the calorie and fat counts :)

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