Hearty and Versatile Kale Pesto

By Analiese Paik

Penne rigate with kale pesto

I first saw a recipe for kale pesto in the November 2012 issue of Prevention magazine. The article featured Dr. Weil’s True Food Kitchen restaurant recipes, all wonderful and healthy, easy to prepare, and packed with flavor. I knew instantly that True Food’s kale pesto would become a versatile kitchen staple in my home – something to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator to season pasta or baked potatoes one night, take a sandwich to a new level the next, and serve a a condiment for meats another.

Little did I know that it would be such a hit with my family that I’d be making a beeline to the fresh, organic kale at the Winter Westport Farmers’ Market each week to ensure a fresh batch was always on hand. I’m loving it so much that I’m tempted to fold the pesto into some fresh sheep’s milk ricotta from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm to make manicotti.

Tip: If you or someone at your table doesn’t like the bite of raw garlic, blanch the garlic for a minute or two in the kale water before adding it to the food processor. It will take the bite right out of it while retaining the garlic flavor.

I like to add the grated cheese after the other ingredients have been processed to a fine paste. Use the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto in the serving bowl just before draining and adding the pasta.

Kale pesto, True Food Kitchen’s way, is essentially basil pesto with blanched kale swapped in for the basil. I like to use an excellent olive oil since it will not be cooked. I’ve been using Olivette’s Organic Mission Olive oil, one of the 5 outstanding California olio nuovo (new oils) they have from thelatest harvest and crush. Unlike basil pesto, kale pesto does not turn brown in the refrigerator so there’s no need to cover it in olive oil. Freeze the pesto if you don’t plan to use it within 5 days.

Food 52’s kale pesto is so popular it’s a Community Pick. The addition of lemon juice and removal of red pepper flakes make it slightly different from True Food’s.

A Cozy Kitchen takes a non-traditional approach by replacing pine nuts with toasted pistachios.

Real Simple uses walnuts in place of pine nuts and omits the lemon juice.

Do you make another version? Please share it below.


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