Whole-Wheat Pasta with Toasted Walnuts, Greens, and Ricotta

February 28, 2020

I’m not one to play favorites, but the versatility of this simple, powerful, whole-wheat pasta recipe gets a permanent spot at my dinner table. 

Nutty, al dente noodles topped with salted, toasted walnuts, creamy scoops of ricotta, and hearty greens is the kind of à la carte vegetarian weeknight dinner that pleases every palate – including (for once!) the cook’s.

Build Your Own Whole-Wheat Pasta Dinner

There are three components of this nutritious, fiber-rich recipe.

They’re stunning all together, like a symphonic trio, but also great on their own for people who, uh, don’t like classical music.

Overhead shot of whole-wheat pasta, ricotta, sautéed greens, walnuts, and parmesan in separate bowls.

For example, whole-wheat pasta swathed in extra-virgin olive oil is the perfect meal for a small child or picky teenager who just came back from summer camp as a born-again vegan. 

Whole-wheat pasta with olive oil and toasted walnuts is great for the type of slightly older person who does not mind crunch in their baked goods (brownies are better with pecans, end of discussion). 

Close-up shot of walnuts in oil in a black skillet.

Finally, whole-wheat pasta with olive oil, toasted walnuts, and dark green, pleasantly bitter kale or swiss chard is for the joy of the home cook who gushes about in-season produce doused in garlic, or any other adults at the table that understand the value of a green thing. 

Overhead shot of raw broccoli rabe in a black skillet.

It goes without saying that the ricotta and Parmesan cheese are for everyone’s enjoyment.

Place all the elements of this dish in separate bowls (as the cook, you’re not doing the dishes, right?) so that each family member or guest can choose how much of each ingredient will fit their tastes. 

Overhead shot of Whole-Wheat Pasta with Walnuts, Greens & Ricotta on a white plate with a silver fork.

Each eater will assemble dinner themselves (except maybe that small child) out of an array of crowd-favorite flavors, so you don’t have to worry about comments of displeasure or (worse) absolute silence. 

More likely, you’ll receive overwhelming praise for a dinner that’s easy to make and easy to love. 

It’s not playing favorites, it’s favoring the well-deserved.

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Toasted Walnuts, Greens, and Ricotta

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

A nutritious, fiber-rich, whole-wheat pasta recipe with 3 components that are great when enjoyed together, but also good on their own for pickier eaters.


  • Salt
  • 1 lb whole-wheat pasta (any shape you like)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, fat stems trimmed
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard or kale, or a combination, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, for serving
  • Parmesan, for serving



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add the pasta, cook until al dente. Save 1/2 cup of starchy cooking liquid just before you drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the pot and toss with olive oil until coated. If the pasta seems dry, pour in some of the cooking liquid. You may not need all of the pasta cooking liquid.


While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add the walnuts, season with salt, and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly, and they will continue to cook slightly once removed from the skillet. Transfer the walnuts, along with their oil, to a small bowl and set aside.


Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the now-empty skillet and increase the heat to medium. Working in batches, add the broccoli rabe and Swiss chard or kale, adding another batch as one wilts down and seasoning each batch with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until just wilted and bright green. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat.


To serve, set out the pasta, walnuts, greens, ricotta, lemon wedges, black pepper, and Parmesan. Top each serving of pasta with some of the greens, a spoonful of walnuts and a drizzle of their oil, a dollop of ricotta, a squeeze of lemon, and as much black pepper and Parmesan as you’d like.


  • 395 Calories


Need to use up leftover ricotta? I love it on thick-cut toast for breakfast with fresh fruit, honey, and a pinch of flaky salt.

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    Whole-Wheat Pasta with Toasted Walnuts, Greens, and Ricotta — American Home Cook | My Meals are on Wheels
    March 2, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    […] via Whole-Wheat Pasta with Toasted Walnuts, Greens, and Ricotta — American Home Cook […]

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