Raise your hand if you love pesto! I do, I do! I could seriously slather something in pesto every day of the week. Pasta, bread, chicken, veggies…everything tastes better with pesto. Last week I had a bag of kale that never made it to our lunchtime smoothies and needed to be used up, so pesto came to mind. Why not? Since kale is naturally a little bitter, I considered a quick blanch to mellow it out, but then I also considered the fact that I’m 7 months pregnant and that’s like an additional 2 steps and dishes, so I quickly decided who cares. I’m glad I went that route because it honestly didn’t need it. Once you add the parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil, the bitterness quietly melts away into the background. It’s just enough to still recognize the kale, but not so much that it’s unpleasant.
Pesto is truly a blank slate that you can take in any direction you choose. Use what you have on hand and don’t stress too much about measurements and what you don’t have in the pantry. I had kale and a small amount a basil leftover from another recipe so I threw both in the food processor. Mint or parsley would have been equally tasty additions. I toasted up some walnuts I found in the freezer and tossed them in with parmesan cheese, lemon zest and some garlic. Finally with the processor running, I streamed in some extra-virgin olive oil until it reached the consistency I like best. Perfection.
We kept it simple…like I said, 7 months preggo…and combined it with some whole wheat penne. Quick and easy and delicious. My two year old gobbled it up because like his mommy and daddy, he LOVES all things pasta! I was thrilled that he was getting so many vitamins and nutrients from the kale, especially because he has been on a veggie strike as of late. Dinner success!
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more and less to taste
In a large food processor, combine kale, basil, garlic, toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly stream in extra-virgin olive oil until pesto reaches the consistency you like best. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate or serve.