Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta

Sometimes I wonder if I would have liked kale when I was a kid. My mom made us spinach regularly and Swiss Chard on occasions but never kale. If I had kale chips, I’d have to assume I’d be into them. I have always been a sucker for crunchy things and I don’t think my kid palette would have discriminated. But then again I think I might have been horrified with the kale chip-in- teeth- situation. Oh god, imagine if that happened in high school! If I loved them as much as I do now, I’d be Tracy– that chick with the swamp teeth! I’d be standing alone at the school dance, the Cranberries would be playing and I’d be picking at my teeth waiting for some boy to ask me to dance. Gross…

I digress…So kale AS pesto. Sounds pretty neat huh? It is. With a little bit of lemon it’s bright green & lovely. With some toasted walnuts it’s smokey and nutty. With some olive oil and Parmesan cheese, it’s smooth and creamy. I fantasize about dipping some of my Killer Garlic Bread in some. I bet it would be an amazing sauce/base for a pizza… fantastic on a baked potato or in a bruschetta concoction. Don’t feel like going through the whole process of making pesto? Try this Pasta with Braised Kale recipe instead. But really, come on! It’s super easy.

And we’re off!

Gather your ingredients to make the pesto!

Grate the Parmesan & set aside. Use the good stuff. It makes a difference.

Put the kale leaves in a large pot of boiling water for 4-5 mins. You will cook the pasta in this same water.

Drain the kale & quickly rinse with cold water.

Pat the leaves dry with a towel.

In a food processor, add the cheese, toasted walnuts, ONE clove of garlic & kale.

I added two and paid the price. After a pack of gum and 8 tooth-brushing sessions later I was fine.

Back to the pesto…Whirl it in the food processor for a bit.

Add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Hey! I grew that lemon!

kalepestopasta (7)

And slowly add your olive oil in. MIX MIX MIX.

Ahhhhhhhhh alchemy! Your noodles should be cooking at this point.

In a large bowl, add the pesto and pour your hot noodles on top. STIR!

Uh huh. That’s what I’m talkin’ bout. Add a little pasta water if it’s too thick.

I sprinkled a few reserved walnuts in the mix. Of course add some grated Parm….

kale pesto pasta

Soo good when it hits your lips.

Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta

(recipe slightly adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine)

Serves 4

  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (I didn’t chop mine)
  • 1 pound pasta (I used Rotelli)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large pot of salted water, cook the kale until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to a colander and rinse with cold water. Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, squeeze the kale to remove the excess water. In a food processor, combine the kale, walnuts, garlic and parmesan until almost smooth; season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. With the machine running, add the olive oil.

Add the pesto to the pasta, along with enough pasta cooking water to loosen the pesto as necessary. Serve sprinkled with more parmesan and serve with extra toasted walnuts.

***Shutterbean Notes***

-You might wanna add a little bit of fresh lemon juice to perk up your leftovers!

-You could eat it cold as a pasta salad with some tomatoes & feta cheese sprinkled in!

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