Kale and almond pesto

A new twist on a familiar favorite.

Three Many Cooks
Transform an entire bunch of kale into a tasty and nutritious pesto for pasta.

It’s that time again. Kale season. It’s growing like a weed in our gardens, it’s spilling out of baskets at the farmers’ market, and it’s piling up in our refrigerators. We’ve made soups and stews with kale, we’ve made pasta dishes featuring kale, we’ve made kale chips. We’ve sautéed it, braised it, broiled it, grilled it. And it still keeps coming!

The other day I was sitting on my couch planning dinner and muttering four-letter words about all the kale in my fridge, and I thought to myself, “I wish I could just put it in the food processor and PULVERIZE it! I want my refrigerator back!” And then I had a genius idea: “What if I can pulverize it…into kale pesto!”

In just a few minutes, I had reduced an entire bunch of kale to a small Tupperware container of pesto. (Good pesto at that!) And I like to think kale pesto is better for me than regular pesto – full of all the vitamins and minerals that make kale annoyingly healthy. And since kale and almonds make up the bulk of it (instead of basil and pine nuts), it’s cheaper, too!

Give kale pesto a shot. Just have fun with it – try walnuts or hazelnuts and cilantro or parsley. You’ll get a tasty meal and some of your precious refrigerator real estate back.

Kale and Almond Pesto
Makes about 2 cups

1 bunch kale (about 12 leaves or 9 ounces), rinsed thoroughly
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole, raw unsalted almonds
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Submerge all the kale in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until bright green but still crisp, 30-60 seconds. Drain the kale and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Dry the kale thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel. When dry, tear or cut the kale leaves from the thick, woody stem.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the kale leaves, Parmesan, almonds, basil, and garlic; pulse until well combined. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil first and then the water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. And add more oil or water, if necessary, to reach desired consistency.

Pesto will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (longer if you float a little oil on the top). And it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

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