Beef and Kale Pasta Bake

Quick and healthy beef and kale pasta bake will make your weeknight dinner prep a breeze. Simple ingredients, loaded with flavor, and freezable, too! What I like about our version of this dish is that it really is kale-forward. There are 6 cups of chopped kale in this dish so it’s loaded with fiber, vitamins and a healthy amount of calcium, too.

Average Rating 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)


chicken lettuce wraps on a white plate

Move over Hamburger Helper! Beef and Kale Pasta Bake is so much better.

This simple meal is quick and easy and versatile. Best with a ground protein like ground beef, bison, pork, or chicken and a hearty leafy green like kale or collard greens. Can also be made with spinach. Can also be made with rice instead of pasta or diced potatoes. Or, leave the starch out and serve it as a beef and veggie stir fry.


Pick from the options below to make the combo that makes your taste buds sing.

Protein Choices — pick one

  • Ground beef
  • Ground pork
  • Ground chicken
  • Ground bison
  • Vegetarian plant-based “meat” crumbles like this one.
  • Gardein Ground Be’f see here.
  • Lentils
  • Beans

Veggies —

  • Kale
  • Bell Pepper — I prefer red or yellow
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Diced canned tomatoes
  • Chopped mushrooms


  • Pasta sauce
  • You could also use salsa if you want more of a Mexican bake
  • Water

As you can see, you’ve got a ton of options.


Prep the veggies first.

  • wash and chop the kale or purchase prewashed and chopped kale.
  • dice the onion.
  • mince the garlic.
  • dice the bell peppers
  • wash and chop the mushrooms.

Measure out your dry pasta, you’ll need two cups of macaroni or small shells. You could also use 2 cups of uncooked rice.

Grab your prepared pasta sauce and can of diced tomatoes. Measure out 2 cups of water.

Brown the ground beef, drain and set aside.

Shred the cheddar cheese and set it aside.

Then begin the saute.

  • saute the onions in olive oil for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic, mushrooms and red bell pepper.
  • add the spices.
  • add the chopped kale.
  • add the canned diced tomatoes.
  • add the pasta sauce and water.
  • add the uncooked pasta.
  • add the browned ground beef.

Continue to cook as directed below then assemble the casserole and bake.


This recipe uses 3x the amount of kale as other recipes. We amped up the nutrition by doing this and it’s delicious!

For one cup of raw kale, check out the nutrient value:

Calories: 7.2
Fat: 0.3g
Sodium: 10.9mg
Carbohydrates: 0.9g
Fiber: 0.8g
Sugars: 0.2g
Protein: 0.6g
Vitamin A: 49.6mcg
Vitamin K: 80.3mcg
Vitamin C: 19.2mg
Potassium: 71.7mg
Calcium: 52.3mg

This dish is a great way to get healthy amounts of potassium and calcium, not to mention all the other benefits.

Sauté onions, garlic, bell peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil.

Add chopped kale and sauté for 10 minutes.

After kale is cooked down, add the can of diced tomatoes.

Sauté for another 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Add uncooked pasta, 12 oz. pasta sauce, cooked ground beef, and 2.5 cups of water. Cook for 10 more minutes.

Layer the pasta mixture with shredded cheddar cheese in a baking dish. The mixture fits perfectly in a 9×13 baking dish or 2 9inch casserole dishes like this one.

Bake uncovered in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Time to eat!


Q: What if I don’t want to use ground beef?

A: You can use any ground meat or ground veggie substitute. You’ll need 1 lb. of ground meat.

Q: Are there other leafy greens that can be used?

A: You bet. Collard greens or spinach.

Q: Can I use something other than pasta sauce?

A: Yes, you can use salsa and switch the flavor profile to mexican.



Considering that we are “Vine” + Plate, let’s talk wine.

A nice medium-bodied red wine like a Rioja or Zinfindel would be great.


A light, refreshing beer like a pilsner or pale ale would really be nice.

Side Dishes or Other Accompaniments

Serve with a side salad and a simple vinaigrette.

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Lisa Bollow
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Quick, easy, delicious dinner filled with flavor. Make this ahead for a quick freezer to oven meal.


  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint chopped mushrooms
  • 6 cups chopped kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb ground beef, pork, chicken, or vegetarian option
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 12 oz premade pasta sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 box (1 lb dry pasta) any “shell” variety — macaroni, cavatappi, penne, will all work great.


  1. Heat your olive oil in a dutch oven.
  2. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, oregano, thyme.
  4. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute for 10 minutes.
  5. Add chopped kale and saute for 10 minutes.
  6. Add can of diced tomatoes.
  7. While kale is being sauteed, brown ground beef in a separate pan.
  8. Once ground beef is browned, add to the dutch oven with the kale, and other veggies.
  9. Add dry, uncooked pasta to the dutch oven.
  10. Add water and pasta sauce to dutch oven, stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  11. At this point all of the ingredients should be in the dutch oven EXCEPT the shredded cheese.
  12. Your pasta will be al dente at this point. That is what you want. When you move it to the oven to finish, the pasta will be perfectly soft.
  13. Layer 1/2 of your beef, kale and pasta mixture in your 9×13 pan.
  14. Sprinkle 4 oz of shredded cheddar cheese over the top, don’t mix it in.
  15. Add remaining beef, kale and pasta mixture and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
  16. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven, uncovered.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: Casserole, Dinner, Make Ahead
  • Cuisine: American
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