Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans

This recipe for Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans was inspired by ATK’s newly-published The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. I updated the recipe by increasing the amount of red pepper flakes to make it a bit spicier and opted to add a larger amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese in the bean sauce to make it creamier. I know the ingredients for this pasta seem pretty humble and bland – I mean, whole wheat pasta, kale and white beans aren’t typically considered the most exciting ingredients. But I promise, the end result is irresistibly delicious. I normally find whole wheat pasta too bland, but I didn’t even notice it when I was eating this. I think the thing that really makes it is the bean sauce —> it’s creamy and delightfully pungent with 12 (yes 12) cloves of garlic and plenty of parm and just a hint of thyme. And this recipe is pretty healthy and inexpensive. So I would strongly encourage you to make it soon. I know will.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans   Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans   Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and White Beans combines humble ingredients to make an hearty, sublime pasta.
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 1 onion, chopped
  • • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • • 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into 1" pieces
  • • 1 pound whole wheat penne
  • • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (approximately 1 cup)
  • • salt and pepper
  • • Garnishes: freshly grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes anf cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans and broth and bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in a the kale, and cook, stirring often, until kale is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, mash some beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to thicken sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain pasta and return it to the pot.
  4. Stir in kale-bean mixture and 1 cup parmesan. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and red pepper flakes and serve.

Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen


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