Gemelli with Kale Pesto and Olives

The time it takes to cook these cute gemelli pasta is the time it takes to make the sauce! This walnut-kale pesto with a bit of orange is a departure from the traditional recipe, but it's super yummy and hearty. Make it as spicy as you want by adjusting the red pepper flakes!

Gemelli with Kale Pesto and Olives



Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Gemelli with Kale Pesto and Olives


    For The Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups baby kale
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (1 large orange)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (1/2 orange)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • For The Pasta:

  • 1 pound gemelli pasta
  • One 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken (meat picked and shredded (about 3 cups))
  • 1 cup red or green Cerignola olives (pitted and roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)


    For the pesto:

    1. Place the walnuts, garlic and kale in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a smooth sauce. Add the salt, pepper flakes, orange zest, orange juice and Parmesan. Pulse until well blended. Pour the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.

    For the pasta:

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gemelli and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the pesto, and toss well with a rubber spatula to coat. Add the chicken, the Cerignola and Kalamata olives, and the salt and Parmesan. Toss again. Loosen with pasta water as needed. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil if desired.


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