Rigatoni with Green Monster Pesto and Kale Chips from The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz

From Daphne Oz, author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook Relish and co-host of The Chew, comes a bright and friendly new cookbook, The Happy Cook, filled with smart advice, expert tips, inspiring ideas, and best of all, 125 simple yet fabulous recipes, that will transform the most nervous or reluctant novice into a happy, confident home cook. It’s like cooking with a friend and a glass of wine! Daphne makes cooking fun and relaxing, and shows anyone—newbie or seasoned expert—how to celebrate every day with delicious meals that are as easy to create as they are to enjoy. From Crispy-Crunchy Honey-Thyme Granola to Apricot-Rosemary Glazed Lamb Chops, there’s a recipe in here for everyone.

We’re thrilled to share a recipe from The Happy Cook on the blog today. This Rigatoni with Green Monster Pesto and Kale Chips is delicious, healthy, and beautiful and will satisfy your lunch and dinner cravings. The Happy Cook is on sale September 20. Pre-order a copy today from your favorite retailer.

Make sure to submit your proof of pre-order here, and you’ll receive exclusive access to three videos of Daphne Oz cooking her favorite at-home recipes, as well as a shopping list notepad and a signed book plate from Daphne!

Rigatoni with Green Monster Pesto and Kale Chips

I call pretty much anything I whir in the blender into a green sauce of some kind “green monster.” I give Philo a green monster breakfast smoothie in the mornings, which is just banana, avocado, yogurt, a huge handful of frozen spinach, and water to blend. She loves it—and the name might have something to do with that. I also make a green monster dressing that’s basically tons of fresh herbs, a little jalapeño, peanuts, olive oil, honey, and tons of lime juice that we eat with everything from crudités to samosas. So when I made up this extra-healthy, greens-packed pesto, it was only natural to call it green monster pesto.

pasta_rigatoni_pesto-1248_retouchedThis is one dish I can rely on to be ready in the time it takes to throw a bunch of stuff into a blender and boil water for pasta, especially if you skip the kale chips step (but don’t, because they add a desirably crispy garnish to this dish, and are an excellent snack for the cook!). I tend to keep a bunch of sautéed greens on hand in the fridge to toss together with a healthy grain, a dollop of yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil for fast lunches, and this blend often uses up any leftovers. The cooked garlic mutes the aggressive taste some raw garlic pestos can have, and the nuts, oil, and cheese blend to creamy perfection, enveloping the greens and making them delicious for palates of all ages. Green monster magic!


  • 2 bunches Tuscan (lacinato) kale, washed, dried, and ribs removed
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts

Adjust one oven rack to the upper-middle position and the other to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roughly tear half of the kale into bite-size pieces and add them to a large bowl. Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. On 2 baking sheets, arrange the pieces of kale in a single layer, with the leaves overlapping as little as possible, so they don’t steam. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the leaves are crisp, switching the pans from top to bottom and vice versa after 5 minutes and shaking the pans to loosen and redistribute the leaves. Set the kale aside to cool on the baking sheets.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and cook it 1 minute less than the package instructs. Reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining kale and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and toss to distribute. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the greens are wilted, another 1 to 3 minutes. (This process works perfectly with spinach, chard, escarole, or any other green you’d like to use up.)

In a food processor, combine the basil, Romano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and process until well combined. Add the sautéed kale and the walnuts and pulse while drizzling in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil until the texture is smooth. Add a spoon or two of pasta water to loosen the mixture if needed.

Toss the pasta with the kale pesto. Serve sprinkled with kale chips and more Romano.

Happy Cook

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