Kale Pesto

by Ginny on March 2, 2011

Post image for Kale Pesto

When I was in college I took a nutrition class as one of my electives. If there was one crowning lesson learned in that class it was this: 

Eat more DGLV’s: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables 

DGLV’s like broccoli, spinach, chard, and romaine lettuce were brought up again and again as excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and cancer preventing nutrients. Most of us don’t eat as many as we should, myself included. But when I get on a DGLV kick, holy cats do I notice a difference in my vitality… za-za-ZOOM!! 

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

When I think of DGLV’s, the poster-veggie that comes to mind is kale, especially my favorite variety: Lacinato or Dino Kale. It’s the darkest, greenest, and leafiest of them all. Kale can lower your cholesterol and cancer risk in one fell swoop. It’s high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. It’s like an edible superhero that once ingested can protect and serve your whole bod. I’m no nutritionist, nor doctor, but I think I can confidently claim that kale is super duper good for you. 

Kale is available pretty much year round, but fall and winter are great times to cook with it, as a light frost can actually sweeten the leaves. The flavor is green and robust (in a good way) and stands up to hearty meat dishes and strong flavors like feta cheese. Kale takes a little bit of know how, but is absolutely worth getting to know. 

This Kale Pesto Pasta is a great place to start. It’s easy, familiar, and contains enough oil to help your body absorb more of the fat soluble vitamins. It’s pictured above with this oven-baked Chicken Parmesan recipe.

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Recipe : Kale Pesto Pasta

This quick, easy, and nutritious pasta is one of our favorite side dishes, but the kale pesto is also highly-devourable as a bread dip when served with a fresh sliced baguette.


  • 1 bunch Lacinato (aka Dinosaur) Kale, stems removed* (see note)
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves and pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 pinches red chili flakes
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • frew grinds black pepper
  • 1/2 small lemon, juice and zest (Meyer lemons are delicious in this recipe)
  • 12 oz. dried pasta (brown rice or quinoa pasta are really nice here)

1. Roughly chop the kale leaves. Bring a large (5 quart) pot of salted water to a boil, and add kale. Blanche for 2 to 3 minutes or until leaves are soft and tender.

2. Drain kale in colander, and rinse with cool water. Gently squeeze out excess water (it doesn’t need to be bone dry, just not dripping).

3. Place in small bowl of food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until a pesto-consistency is reached.

4. Cook dried pasta according to package instructions, drain, and toss immediately with pesto. Mangia!

Serves 4 – 6

*Here’s a trick to remove the leaves from the stems: Grasp the stem end of the leaf with one hand, and with the other, gently pinch your fingers around the base of the stem. Slide them upwards along the rib and the leaf should easily tear away. Don’t worry if the very thin part of the stem towards the top of the leaf pulls off with the leaf– that part of the stem is tender. It’s the thick woody part you want to remove. You can cook and eat the stems separately, but we’ll save that lesson for Kale 201 : )

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

kate March 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

YUM. I have been stockpiling make ahead meals because my at-home-editor-of-the-paper gig is pretty much whooping my fanny and I went on a– get ready– five night pizza streak (local pizza joint loved me. my motherly instincts, not so much) last week. So, I’m watching my firstborn finish his drafting while my pj’d three year-old is washing and spinning the kale. We’re going to have fresh pesto tomorrow night….Thank you:)


Ginny March 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

Hi Kate! Happy to help, and hey, CONGRATS on your new gig. Sounds great! Stick with it and you’ll find your work-flow soon, I’m sure. : )


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