As if kale could be more versatile, I recently shoved it into a blender with a bunch of other delicious things and made a pesto. Kale pesto? What? Yes. And it was just as good, if not better, than any other pesto I’ve had. Since kale is so nutrient happy, it made the massive mound of pasta I ate with it somewhat healthy and for that I am eternally grateful. Bonus, this entire dish takes only 20 minutes to make, which means you get more time to do the things you love (unless eating pasta is one of those things, then take all the time you want)!
I get excited when pasta’s on the menu at home. I rarely order it when I’m out at a restaurant because I can’t handle the Costco sized amounts of butter and cream that go into the sauces, but when I make it at home, I have control over what’s in and what’s out. Since pasta isn’t necessarily a health food, and since the serving size is usually laughable, the more healthy ingredients you can add to it, the bigger the bowl gets, the happier you are and the more satisfied your tummy is.
Kale and tomatoes are the game changers in this recipe. No butter, no cream, just fresh herbs, nutrient dense kale and roasted, sweet cherry tomatoes.
What is this, a garden for ants? (If you don’t get that reference, then you’re probably much older or much younger than me), in which case read this as: Look at how cute these tomatoes are!
As much as I love pasta covered in pesto, I’d be doing you a terrible disservice if I didn’t give you a handful of other great pesto friendly combinations. Because I like you and because I’m craving all of these, here are 5 other ways to your kale pesto:
Plaster your favorite crusty bread with kale pesto and dunk it in your best comfort soup.
Spread a layer of kale pesto on a slice of toasted baguette, top it with tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh herbs and balsamic drizzle, then pinch yourself so you know you’re not dreaming.
Ladies and gentlemen if you’ve never put pesto on your pizza, you’re in for the treat of your life. This is more exciting than The One with the Proposal when Monica proposed to Chandler, but then he proposed to her! Anyway, pizza…skip the marinara and go straight for the kale pesto. Top with tomatoes, cheeses, veggies, chicken, herbs and roasted garlic. It’s magical.
Kale pesto makes a great addition to your favorite lasagna recipe. Add it between layers of ricotta, noodles and sauce for a fresh, garlicy kick to a classic italian dish.
YES! All of them! Mashed, baked, fried, smashed, roasted, whatever you love, add a dollop of kale pesto for a happiness boost.
My favorite: baked sweet potato potato with kale pesto, parmesan cheese and roasted chickpeas.
Now that I’ve shared all of my pesto secrets, you might feel like ditching the whole pasta idea and doing your own thing. I applaud you for this if you go that route, but know that the simplest, quickest dish in the world is awaiting you on one of those nights when you got stuck behind a city bus and the trip home from work took twice as long, or your kids decided to be extra cranky and the thought of putting on their coat to go outside puts them in a tiny rage that lasts 30 minutes, or your roommate (or spouse) eats all of your leftovers that you were dreaming about all day and now you need food and you need it ASAP!
*PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Check your teeth when you’re done eating this. This recipe could be a total date ruiner if you don’t excuse yourself to go make sure you don’t have half of a kale leaf stuck between your teeth. Don’t let this happen to you. You’ve been warned.
If you’re married, I say leave it in your teeth and see how long it takes your spouse to notice.
What to Bring to the Store
In order to make sure your garbage isn’t filled with unnecessary packaging, bring the following reusables with you to the store:
- 3 reusable produce bags for the kale, tomatoes and basil
- 2 reusable bulk bags for the cashews and (if you’re lucky) the noodles!
- 1 reusable bulk spice bag for the nutritional yeast.
I always bring at least 6 reusable bags of any kind with me to the store because you never know when you’re going to get that unexpected craving for bulk banana chips! Always bring your reusable grocery bags! Designate three grocery bags to always be in your car.
Waste Meter – 5 out of 5!
In terms of how much waste was produced in the making of this film, I mean recipe, Kale Pesto Pasta gets a 5 out of 5 on the waste meter! No packaging from this recipe needed to be thrown out. Here’s what you recycle: pasta box (if you couldn’t find it in bulk) and possibly your tomato container. Compost all of your vegetable scraps. That’s it! I love blender friendly recipes because they’re usually zero waste ones as well.
- 2 cups of packed kale, ribs removed
- 1 cup of basil, packed
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 box of whole wheat pasta (your favorite shape; I used fusilli)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the tomatoes, slice in half and pour into a roasting pan or shallow baking sheet. Drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Toss and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until the skins are wrinkled and brown. Set aside.
- In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil with a dash of salt. Once boiling, add in the pasta noodles and cook as directed.
- Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, add the garlic, cashews, kale, basil, sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast and olive oil (in that order). Blend until it reaches pesto consistency (not completely pureed, small chunks, rather thick).
- Drain the pasta, then return to the same pot. Add in the pesto and mix well. Lightly toss in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
- I like a lot of pesto, so you might not use all you made for this dish. Save any leftover pesto in a glass jar and keep in your fridge. When you're ready to use it again, slightly warm it up in the microwave or add to something already hot. Add a small amount of olive oil and stir if it's still too thick.