Dana Slatkin

Vegan Kale Pesto with Whole Grain Spaghetti

Vegan Kale PestoCurious what I crave after a week of abstinence from bread? You guessed it. The minute Passover ends, I head to the market to replenish my supply of pasta. But after a fast of any sort, it’s wise to choose the virgin meal judiciously. Especially when sharing it with a crowd of tough culinary sophisticates (i.e. my toddler, ’tween, and teen).

While taking a wander in my garden this week, I discovered a huge crop of lacinato (flat) kale ready to be harvested. Given its versatility and numerous nutritional benefits, kale has always been one of my go-to greens. But in my household, it’s not always an easy sell (with the exception of my Parmesan Kale Chips). Just then, I had an epiphany…or so I thought. I’d throw it in the food processor along with standard pesto ingredients and no one would notice the extra vitamins!

This time, I decided on a vegan pesto — clean and virtuous. After washing the kale leaves and removing the center ribs, I minced them with toasted walnuts, garlic, miso paste and a little olive oil. Done. Tossed with our favorite whole-grain pasta, the pesto was full of gardeny gusto, and my unwitting family gobbled it up.

I couldn’t wait to share my genius idea. Then I started researching kale pesto and realized there were thousands of recipes out there already. Some called for blanching the kale first, while others included lemon juice. Many staked a claim to a delicious, nutritious breakthrough.

So apparently this recipe is not a revelation. But it does offer a fresh vegan twist. Recruit it to top roasted or grilled vegetables, layer into lasagna, serve with a Caprese salad, or stir into a soup. Just about any time is the right time for virtue.

This month’s cooking contest is all about artichokes — send in your favorite recipe now!

Photo credit: tastespotting.com

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