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Gemelli with Kale Pesto and Olives

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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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 


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 


  1. For the pesto: 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.
  2. For the pasta: 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.