Meatless Monday: Kale lemon pesto with fettuccine
Kale, lemon juice and zest, pistachios, garlic, and Parmesan cheese make a quick, no-cook vegetarian pasta sauce – or spread for crostini.
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1/2 cup extra virgin olive oilSkip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces fettuccine (or other ribbon pasta – see Kitchen Notes)
1. Start a large pot of water to cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Wash the kale under cold running water, tear into medium-sized pieces, discarding the ribs, and spin dry in a salad spinner (or blot dry with a clean kitchen towel). Place pistachio nuts and garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add kale, olive oil, Parmesan and lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Process to a fairly fine consistency, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. But don’t overprocess it – you want the pesto to retain a little texture. If the pasta is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of pasta water.
3. Drain the cooked pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss to coat with wooden spatulas or spoons. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more pasta water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, if the pasta seems too dry. Divide among shallow bowls and serve.
Pistachios – roasted or not? Either will work fine. I used roasted because that’s what Trader Joe’s had. Make sure they’re unsalted, though – salted pistachios are really salty and can screw up the balance of flavors.
Pick your pasta. Ribbon pastas such as fettuccine or linguine are ideal for pesto. They offer broad, flat surfaces for the pesto to cling to. Rotini or fusilli would be good short pasta shapes for the same reason. Spaghetti also works well. I would avoid vermicelli or capellini, though. Their fineness makes them too fragile for the extensive tossing and mixing required.
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Looking for more pesto on Blue Kitchen? Try this classic basil pecan pesto with pasta, this cilantro-parsley pesto served with tomatoes, feta and pasta – or even this green bean and potato salad with arugula pesto.
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