Kale Pesto

This recipe is, by far, one of my favorite ways to eat pasta. Kale is loaded with great nutrients such as beta carotene, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin K. And since this recipe is made with raw kale, it retains so many of these nutrients that are lost when boiling kale.

One of my favorite things about this pasta is that my toddler loves it! Really! It’s so good for him and he loves it on vegetable pasta, which makes it even a little healthier. Since he’s always been on the low end of the scale, sometimes I’ll add a little crème fraiche to his pasta to add a little more fat in too. This is not a bad way to go for a bit of an indulgent dinner for adults too!

I’ve got three types of kale growing in the garden right now – Tuscan (also known as lacinato or dinosaur kale), Blue Curled and Red Russian kale so I used all three for this recipe, but any type will do. I’ve got quite a bit growing in the garden, but it is starting to succumb to ravages of beetles and white flies so I wanted to pick a bunch in case the critters take over for good. I brought out the biggest plastic bag I could find and filled it up. I ended up picking 5 pounds of kale…which is a lot of kale! I found the easiest way to wash the kale and inspect the leaves for bugs is to put all your kale in a clean sink and fill it with water, which helps wash a lot of the bugs and dirt off. Pull the leaves off the stems and then roughly chop them up. Toss the stems or chop up and add to your compost.

This recipe make a ton of pesto, but it freezes beautifully, so if you have a ton of kale on hand, this is a great way to use it up. I usually freeze the pesto in small half-cup containers, which is the perfect amount to add to pasta for the three of us. This would also be great slathered on some roast chicken or a marinade for some veggies before they hit the grill.

If you have a smaller amount or can’t get your hands on this much kale, I’ve scaled down the recipe to a smaller amount below.

Big Batch Kale Pesto

Yield: 3.5 lbs. or 6 1/2 cups

  • 5 pounds kale (any variety)
  • 2 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 6 ounces toasted walnuts
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

Put the chopped kale in a food processor and add olive oil, basil leaves, walnuts, Parmesan cheese and salt. Process until the pesto is thick, but easily spoonable. Add a little olive oil to thin out as needed. Use the pesto within one week or freeze in smaller containers. The pesto is at its best when used within 3-4 months, but we’ve used pesto that’s been in the deep freezer for up to a year with no problem.

Small Batch Kale Pesto

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 pound kale (any variety)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces toasted walnuts
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Follow same instructions as above for the big batch kale pesto.


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