Friday, July 24, 2009

Pasta with Kale Pesto

Our experiments with pesto continue. I found a delicious sounding recipe in Food Network magazine for broccoli rabe pesto, and decided to adapt it to use kale instead. The result is an unusual, deeply flavorful and cheesy dish that doesn't feel too heavy. It's almost like a lighter, greener macaroni and cheese. Absolutely fantastic. And it's great for those who don't really do the garlic thing, as there is plenty of flavor without any garlic whatsoever.

I can't emphasize enough that there are really no limits on pesto possibilities. I realize the photo above looks a lot like an arugula pesto pasta that I wrote about not too long ago, and yet it tastes completely different. Here we have kale, pistachios, and cheese, joining together to make a fantastic sauce. Pesto knows no bounds, really. And kale is so incredibly good for you; this is a great way to get it into your diet.

Pasta with Kale Pesto
adapted from Food Network Magazine
serves 2


1 small bunch kale, stalks removed
1/4 cup shelled roasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons part skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound whole wheat elbows (or other small cut pasta)


1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a large bowl of salted iced water, as well. Blanch the kale in the boiling water for just about one minute, until bright green and pliable. Scoop it out and immerse it in the iced water to stop the cooking. (Don't dump out the water, and keep it on the heat at a boil).

2. Drain the kale and squeeze out any excess water. Coarsely chop it, and then puree in a food processor until finely ground up (like a dense paste). Add pistachios and parmesan and puree until fairly smooth. Season generously with salt. Add ricotta and puree until well combined.

3. Cook pasta in the pot that is already boiling from the kale. Cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain and return pasta to the pot.

4. Add the pesto to the pot along with enough of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up. Stir well until pasta is thoroughly coated with the pesto. Serve.


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