It’s impressive what a little blending can do for a vegetable. Kale—the almost-always-
in-season green with healthful qualities but not always an exciting flavor profile—happens to fall under this category. In this recipe, the green is cooked quickly, then drained and blended with walnuts and hard cheese for something vibrant and flavorful. Not bad for a vegetable with a color that usually says, “meh.” Try this sauce tossed with whole-wheat pasta, drizzled over vegetables or as a spread for crostini. Feel free to substitute the walnuts for whatever you have on hand (almonds, pine nuts, etc.).
- 1 large bundle of kale stems torn and discarded, any variety
- 1 oz. walnuts
- 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 oz. parmesan (not grated)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the kale. Boil the kale for 2–3 minutes or until slightly wilted. Drain and let cool.
While the kale cools, bring a small skillet to medium-low heat. Add the walnuts and red pepper flakes. Let the walnuts toast for around 5–7 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from heat.
Drop the garlic clove into the food processor or blender. When it’s chopped, turn off the machine and add walnuts/red pepper flake mixture, salt and parmesan. Pulse until the mixture is chopped evenly.
When the kale is cooled, squeeze it with your hands to release as much liquid as possible. Add the kale to the food processor.
Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the oil until the mixture is a thick sauce, about one more minute. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adjusting salt as needed.
Scrape the pesto into a small bowl, and use on pasta, vegetables or crostini. Drizzle leftover pesto with olive oil and cover; it will stay good for 1–2 weeks. Serves 2–4 people, depending on usage.