February 21, 2011

Kale Pesto Pasta

We had a tease of spring on Friday when the temperature jumped up to 9 degrees C. Nine! Alas, the warm weather was temporary; by nightfall, it fell to -9 degrees C and my hopes of an early spring were dashed.

Aside from looking forward to the sun setting past 5:30 in the afternoon and not having to wear ten layers of clothing to keep warm, I am counting down the days until the arrival of fresh spring vegetables to replace the wilted selection currently at my supermarket.

One of my goals for this winter was to cook more root vegetables and to buy vegetables I usually ignore because I don't quite know what to do with them. (Rutabaga, I am looking at you.) Kale was on my list of Things to Try, as I've heard nothing but praises for this superfood but the tough leaves always threw me off. I think it's one of those ingredients that baffles people. As I purchased my first bunch of kale, the person in front of me at the checkout counter turned to me to asked, "How are you cooking that?" My answer was that I honestly haven't figured it out yet.

Sifting through the recipes, I finally found one that made a light bulb go off (or is it on?) in my head. A kale pesto! Pulverizing the leafs until it was no longer tough was a brilliant idea, and adding goat cheese and lemon kicked the dish up another notch. I can happily say that my first kale experience was a successful (and easy!) experience and I look forward to trying different ways to cook this leafy green, so feel free to share your recipes with me. Perhaps I shall tackle rutabaga next?

Kale Pesto Pasta
Recipe from Heidi via 101 Cookbooks

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled
1 small bunch of kale - 1/2 lb / 8 oz, stalks removed, washed well
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup / 2 oz goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice
340 g dried penne pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don't overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste. Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you're happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with more crumbled goat cheese.


  1. Kale pesto - how creative, I've never seen that before ! I have kale growing in my garden so will have to try this.

  2. Genius - kale pesto! Given the recent kale craze I'm in, this is going on my menu for the week! Thank you for the lovely inspiration.

  3. Yum, vegetable hash! I think kale and some sort of squash might go nicely together.

  4. Hi yuen, I have a similar goal this winter. And I too started with Kale. BUT I do have an advantage. I have been eating Kale my whole life in a dish that is brought to you by the dutch.

    peel (or not) a large pot 1/2 full of cut potatoes
    add the enitre amount of kale you get from the grocery store (trimmed of the middle bit and leaves cut smaller)
    boil 45 min or untill potatoes are done
    drain, mash with butter, enjoy!!!!

    often enjoyed with sausage that you cook ontop of the potatoe and veggies

    (or you can look up a recipie online...)

    Its a one pot wonder! and I like it served with plain mustard. mmm mmmm

  5. Thanks for the great recipe rec, El! I am definitely giving this a try when I get the chance.