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Zesty Chicken Bowls with Sauteed Kale and Pasta

Chicken marinated with lemon, rosemary, garlic and crushed red peppers star in these Zesty Chicken Bowls with Kale and Pasta. Quick to make!

I don’t remember buying kale. That’s what I thought as I peered into my crisper drawer on a recent evening, looking for the ingredients for dinner. But remembering it or not, there it was: a stuffed full bag waiting to be consumed.

It must have come from the farmers’ market. My kids and I get up every Saturday, stop at the bank for cash and head off to the farmers market for provisions. We buy Swiss chard and rolls, eggs and herbs, and apparently some kale on a recent trip. Perhaps it was all my favorite meat purveyor had that week. Maybe it just sounded good when I read it off a sign. Or …

Does this ever happen to you? You open the fridge and stumble on something you clearly brought home recently but don’t actually remember buying? It can’t be just me.

Maybe this is one of those stress-related, pandemic-caused brain things that happens. Who knows.

In any case, that bag of curly kale (not even one of my favored varieties!) needed to get used. And I needed to make sure our fridge was filled with easy to grab and eat lunches for the week. It makes life so much simpler when it is.

I had the perfect solution: Zesty Chicken Bowls with Kale and Pasta. These bowls are filled with super flavorful chicken, garlic-laced kale and situated on a simple bed of pasta. It’s delightful.

So I marinated some chicken. A blend of lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper gave it a zesty tang as it lounged in it for a few hours.

Once the chicken is marinated, it cooks in a skillet for about 3-4 minutes per side, until it’s cooked through. This will give it a lovely golden exterior too.

Then I sauteed the kale with some garlic and a little salt and pepper.

Finally, I cooked some pasta. With the flavor powerhouses of the chicken and kale, it didn’t need to be fancy — just a little olive oil, salt and pepper was enough.

The cooking time for this recipe is about 30 minutes, but you’ll need to allow time for the chicken to marinate as well.

Then I packed it all up in containers. The chicken is already cut up (I let it cool completely before I did this) for easy eating. Pop one container uncovered into the microwave and heat it for about 90 seconds and lunch is made.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be a make-ahead meal. It could just as well be a dinner for tonight, if you are so inclined. Don’t forget to set the chicken in the marinade at least a few hours before you’re going to cook it. It needs time (but not too much — no more than four hours).

Zesty Chicken Bowls with Sauteed Kale and Pasta

Zesty Chicken Bowls with Sauteed Kale and Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Chicken marinated with lemon, rosemary, garlic and crushed red peppers star in these Zesty Chicken Bowls with Kale and Pasta. Quick to make!


Marinated Chicken

  • 1 lb raw chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/2 tablespoon, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Sauteed Kale

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale (stems removed and discarded
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1/2 lb dry linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Arrange the chicken in a shallow bowl that has a lid. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, dried rosemary, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Pour over the chicken. Cover the bowl and shake gently to combine. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to marinate.
  3. When it's time to cook, bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken in batches, browning for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate to sit.
  5. Heat the olive oil for the kale in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the kale to the skillet and toss well to coat with the garlic and oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Kale doesn't wilt like other greens, but it will become more pliable. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, as desired.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, drain thoroughly and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Divide the pasta evenly among four bowls. Top with kale. Slice the chicken and top the bowls. Enjoy.


This can be made as a meal-prep bowl. Cook according to directions and then pack into airtight containers. Chill in the fridge for up to four days. When you are ready to eat, reheat in the microwave for about 90 seconds on high.

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