This time of year, whenever I write “green veg” on the grocery list for a trip my husband takes, he inevitably comes back with kale. He really loves it, and it’s one of the few green vegetables in season at the moment. I like it, too, but there are only so many different ways I can sauté it and braise it before I’m over it.
Last week, I had a huge bunch of kale staring me in the face again, and no real dinner plans. That’s when I decided to make a kale pesto so that I could use it in a new way (new to me, that is) and the bonus, of course, was that I got to eat pasta for dinner. :)
This made a LOT of pesto, so I was able to freeze quite a bit for a some quick dinners down the road. The pesto was delicious and a nice change of pace from the standard basil version. It had a heartier flavor, and some bitterness to it (though boiling the kale will get rid of much of the bitterness, and the lemon juice brightens it up). I decided to go with walnuts rather than pine nuts, which were a great complement to the kale. I topped the pasta with some chicken I quickly cooked in a skillet, to add a little more protein to the dish.
1 large bunch kale, coarsely chopped and thick stems removed
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
juice of 1 lemon
zest of half a lemon
good quality extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the kale. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until tender and most of the bitterness has been removed. Drain.
Place the garlic and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the kale and process until well combined. Add the cheese , lemon juice, and zest, and pulse just a few times to incorporate. Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube, continuing to process, until your desired consistency (I’ve always been a fan of a thicker/less oily pesto myself). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the pesto with hot cooked pasta, drizzling in a little extra oil if desired.