I am thrilled that in recent years, kale has gained respect as the new ‘it’ vegetable. See, for a good number of years, this leafy, powerful green was cast aside for more delicate offerings like baby spinach and arugula. If kale is the poster child for health and all things good and wholesome in the booming food movement, then I am a supporter, a rebel for the cause. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I shred the Tuscan variety for salads, roast it’s leaves for ‘chips’ and stuff handfuls in my blender, whirring up green smoothies. Why the near obsession? Aside from it’s versatility, you can’t forget that, ounce for ounce, it contains more nutrients and health benefits than just about any vegetable on earth?!
This method for kale pesto includes an extra step you won’t see in traditional basil pesto recipes. Blanching the kale helps retain it’s bright green color, softens it a bit and mellows the flavor just a notch. Don’t skip it.
Aside from pasta, smear your kale pesto on sandwiches, fold into grain salads or spread on sliced tomatoes and mozzarella for a new take on the classic caprese.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 large bunch kale (about 6 cups), inner stems removed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
- Kosher salt
- Red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add kale and cook for blanch for 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water and allow to cool. Drain and squeeze out as much water as you can (in a kitchen towel or with your hands.
In a food processor, add the dried kale, garlic, cheese and almonds. Pulse to combine. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil. This will give you a thicker pesto, if you like it thinner, add more olive oil. Pulse in the lemon zest, juice, salt and red pepper flakes, taste, and add more of everything to achieve pesto perfection. Toss with hot pasta immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight jar or container with a layer of plastic wrap over the surface. Will keep for 3-4 days.