I usually make several batches of pesto in the summer when basil is at its best. In the off season, I will occasionally try some other leafy green as a replacement (arugula, parsley, cilantro, etc.), so I thought, why not kale? I’m not even going to pretend that this is a healthy option. I mean, it’s loaded with cheese and olive oil! But, this was a tasty alternative. I basically made this the same way I would make a basil pesto, except I blanched the kale first. The recipe that follows is a starting point for amounts, I always end up having to add a little more cheese or oil or lemon or salt until it is just right.
Kale Pesto with Pasta
- 2 bunches of lacinato/Tuscan kale, stemmed
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, or walnuts
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- 2/3 – 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lb. of your favorite pasta
First blanch the kale in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and add to a bowl of ice water. Set aside to cool for a minute or two. Meanwhile, bring another large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
When the kale is cool, drain (no need to pat dry) and then roughly chop. Add the kale, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese to a food processor or a vitamix blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Then, with the machine running, slowly stream in almost all of the olive oil. Check for consistency. If it seems too thick, add more oil. Add the lemon juice, starting with 1 tablespoon, adding more as needed (I used about 2 tablespoons, but you may not want as much acid). Add salt and pepper to taste.
When your pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and pour into a large bowl. Add pesto along with reserved pasta water and mix well. Serve with additional grated or shredded cheese.