Curious 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.
1 (16-ounce) package whole grain spaghetti
1/2 bunch (4 ounces) lacinato or other flat leaf kale, center ribs removed, chopped roughly
1/2 cup (packed) parsley or basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or 1/4 pine nuts
2-3 large cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 tablespoon white miso paste or 1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
1. Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the pasta and cook according to the package instructions to desired doneness.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in the bowl of a food processor, finely mince the kale, parsley, walnuts, garlic, and miso paste or cheese. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil until it is fully incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and toss with the pesto. Add a bit of the cooking water, if needed, to incorporate the pesto. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan, if desired.
This month’s cooking contest is all about artichokes — send in your favorite recipe now!
Photo credit: tastespotting.com