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Spaghetti with Kale Pesto and Meatballs


  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, tough stems removed and leaves finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 c. freshly squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. sausage meat (such as sweet Italian or garlic and herb)
  • 16 oz. dried spaghetti


  1. Make pesto: In a food processor, pulse together kale, garlic, walnuts, and lemon zest and juice. Add Parmesan and ¼ cup olive oil and pulse to form a thick paste. Add ¼ more cup olive oil in a slow steady stream, then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Make meatballs: Roll sausage into 1″ meatballs. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add meatballs and cook, stirring, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate, then pour grease out of skillet and wipe clean with a paper towel.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water, and return to pot.
  4. Add pasta, pesto, and 1/4 cup pasta water to skillet and cook, stirring regularly, 1 to 2 minutes over low heat until pasta is evenly coated. Add meatballs and gently toss to warm.
  5. Divide pasta into bowls and top with Parm.

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