Kale Pesto

This is some good stuff going on right here.

Healthy cruciferous crusader kale, masquerading as a gorgeous pesto sauce!

If you like pesto sauce, (and really, please, who does not?) and you are all about getting as much cruciferous kale good-ness into you, yourself and everyone else around your dinner table because that shniz is just some nutrient packed amazingness-ness, then read on. Twenty minutes.   Boom.


Disclaimer! Anyone who knows me or has read my blog for any amount of time knows that I rarely ever consume, prepare or pimp pasta. I have to admit that although we broke up a while ago, it still has my heart so yeah, we secretly get together every once in a while. And it’s always soooo good in that way that is so bad. This is one of those times, for sure.  I gotta tell you, my conscience was alleviated ever so slightly by the fact that I was just “using” the pasta to get this kale up into my face……..

So take that, pasta. I feel better now.

Next time I swear this amazing pesto is going on some spaghetti squash. Or zucchini noodles….or even some green beans! Yum. Win, win, win some more, you do it up however you like.

Kale, de-stalked

I wash my kale (and any other veggie) first by immersing it in a big bowl (I actually use a plastic bucket that fits in my sink) of water deep enough so that when you swish it around, there is room for the dirt and debris to sink down to the bottom, and your produce will stay floating at the top. Fetch it on out of there and onto a kitchen towel to dry.

Kale, from raw to squeezed 

On this day, however, no worries about getting it perfectly moisture free as we are going to give it a quick plunge into a big ‘ol pot of boiling salted water. But not for long. In goes the kale, thirty seconds….and then fish it out with a slotted spoon into a colander (you are going to save that water to boil some pasta* in). Once that kale is cool enough to handle, give it a squeeze to get most of the water out. It gets darker and the volume shrinks right before your very eyes!

Get out your trusty food processor, it’s time to buzz up some pesto.

Kale in the food processor

I gotta tell you, so many good things come from my workhorse of a FP, and this is no exception. Take that blanched kale, one clove of garlic, toasted walnuts (pop a handful of walnuts onto a cookie sheet and into a 350° oven for 5-8 minutes….be sure to use a timer, these oily little buggers can burn really fast if you forget about them, and I speak from experience – ug) some shredded Asiago cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse. Pulse.   And pulse.  Then stream in 1/2 cup of olive oil and you are rewarded with this….

Kale Pesto close up!

…..gloriously gorgeous green slightly garlicky plush perfection of a pesto paste. Yes, I said it and I will not take it back.

Add this to your pot of drained al dente pasta of choice. I love me some spaghetti but this thick and luscious, highly flavorful pesto is kinda really meant to go over a sturdier shape like a rigatoni, and if that is your style, well then, do it up like that. Make sure to save some of that starchy pasta water to add to the mix in case your sauce needs a little somethin somethin to loosen (as in: de-thicken) it up. 

To serve spin a big tong-ful of this out onto your plate. Top it with some bits of crunchy chopped walnuts and a smattering of extra cheese. 

Bowl of Kale Pesto Pasta

Be prepared to say “oh my gawd, this is so good”……..between forkfuls. Which is pretty much what I did. 

Over and over and over.

Recipe Below: 

This makes four to six very generous to moderate servings. The leftovers are almost even better! Life is good like that.

Kale Pesto
  1. 1/2 cup walnuts
  2. 1 bunch of kale, washed and stemmed and leaves torn (about 8 cups)
  3. 1 cup grated asiago cheese (about 2 oz) plus more for serving
  4. 1 garlic clove, very roughly chopped
  5. 1/2 cup olive oil
  6. kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  7. 3/4 pound pasta (spaghetti was my carb of choice; penne, rigatoni, use whatever you like)
  1. Heat your oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and let em toast in there about 5-8 minutes, let cool. Separate out roughly 2 tablespoons and chop, set this aside for garnish.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and stir around for thirty seconds, then quickly remove from the water into a colander with a spider or a slotted spoon. Save the cooking water for the pasta.
  3. When the kale is cool enough to handle, give it a squeeze to remove most of the water.
  4. In a food processor, combine the kale, garlic, cup of grated asiago, the remaining un-chopped toasted walnuts (should be approx 1/3 of a cup), 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon). Pulse until finely chopped.
  5. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil through the feed tube until combined.
  6. Bring the reserved cooking water back up to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. BEFORE you drain off the water, be sure to dip a cup into the pot to reserve a half a cup or so.
  7. Return all but 1/3 of the drained pasta back into the hot pot and add the pesto sauce. Toss to coat, adding in a splash or two of the reserved cooking water to loosen it all up. Add some or all of the pasta back into the pot as you go, depending on how "juicy" you like your pasta dishes.
  8. Serve up this pasta sprinkled with some extra Asiago cheese and the chopped reserved walnuts.
  1. This pesto is gorgeous and healthy and can stay that way if you replace the pasta in this dish with green beans.....or zoodles (zucchini noodles).....or spaghetti squash.
  2. I promise I'm gonna do that next time.
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1 Comment

  1. Julie McCubbin Reply

    Such a great read. You need to write a book, and that is no word of a lie. 😘

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