It’s that time again. Kale season. It’s growing like a weed in our gardens, it’s spilling out of baskets at the farmers’ market, and it’s piling up in our refrigerators. We’ve made soups and stews with kale, we’ve made pasta dishes featuring kale, we’ve made kale chips. We’ve sautéed it, braised it, broiled it, grilled it. And it still keeps coming!
The other day I was sitting on my couch planning dinner and muttering four-letter words about all the kale in my fridge, and I thought to myself, “I wish I could just put it in the food processor and PULVERIZE it! I want my refrigerator back!” And then I had a genius idea: “What if I can pulverize it…into kale pesto!”
In just a few minutes, I had reduced an entire bunch of kale to a small Tupperware container of pesto. (Good pesto at that!) And I like to think kale pesto is better for me than regular pesto—full of all the vitamins and minerals that make kale annoyingly healthy. And since kale and almonds make up the bulk of it (instead of basil and pine nuts), it’s cheaper, too!
Give kale pesto a shot. Just have fun with it—try walnuts or hazelnuts and cilantro or parsley. You’ll get a tasty meal and some of your precious refrigerator real estate back.
- 1 bunch kale (about 12 leaves or 9 ounces), rinsed thoroughly
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup whole, raw unsalted almonds
- ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup cold water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Submerge all the kale in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until bright green but still crisp, 30-60 seconds. Drain the kale and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Dry the kale thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel. When dry, tear or cut the kale leaves from the thick, woody stem.
- In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the kale leaves, Parmesan, almonds, basil, and garlic; pulse until well combined. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil first and then the water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. And add more oil or water, if necessary, to reach desired consistency.
Wow, Sharon. That’s the most ingenious recipe I’ve seen in a long time, and I don’t need to reiterate why. Wish I had thought of it… but I’m so glad you did.
Can’t wait to try it.
Lovely Alice from LA says
What a great idea! I’m picking up some kale on Friday at the farmer’s market and making this for dinner.
This is a great idea. Could I use something besides nuts. My son, Kale (LOL) is allergic to nuts. I do have a ton of kale growing in my garden and I don’t know what to do with it since none of the kids like it.
I’d be interested to see what Sharon has to say, but I think I’d omit the nuts and then sprinkle the finished pasta with some homemade bread crumbs sauteed crisp in a little oil or butter.
Sharon, I love your passion! and your ingenuity- thank you for sharing with us.
Hey Donna. I am sure you can leave out the nuts. I would just add some more herbs and a little more parm to balance the kale flavor. Also, I was thinking of something similar to what Mom said…fresh breadcrumbs toasted in skillet with some olive oil will add that nice crunch you’ll miss by leaving out the nuts. Good luck!
Sharon, this is an incredible revelation. I love kale chips, but pesto. Pesto is my favorite! I’m totally gonna make this. And put it on pizza!
And I thought I invented Kale pesto! Last week friends were on vacation and asked me to water their garden and help myself to whatever was ready to be picked. So I brought home some Kale and made pesto.
My recipe was nearly identical to yours including using almonds (lightly toasted). I also squeezed in some lemon juice because I’m of the mindset that there’s nothing, sweet or savory, that a little lemon juice doesn’t improve!
Thanks so much for the advice. I will have to try it. I used some kale the other day when I made greens with spinach and swiss charde. It was yummy!
Wanda Dupuy says
I made this dish a few days ago. My husband was skeptical about the kale, but said the pesto tasted good (better than he expected). One suggestion: the kale was a bit more bitter than I like, so will parboil for one minute more next time. Overall, it is good recipe … a keeper.