The other day I bought a huge, and I mean HUGE bunch of kale with the firm idea of making a frittata with it. As the afternoon moved along, I changed my mind on our menu, and the kale transmogrified into a light gratin.   But I also  toyed with the idea of simple kale chips (which I love), only to drop that and settle on a salad.  Maybe settle is not quite right.  By the time I jumped on dinner preparation, the kale ended up as pesto. Flip-flopper? Who, me?  😉

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 big bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of walnuts, toasted
pinch of red pepper flakes
olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup yogurt

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Drop the kale leaves and blanch them for a couple of minutes.  Immediately drain, and rinse briefly in cold water. Drain well, then place in a salad spinner to dry the leaves as much as possible.

Add the toasted walnuts and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds.  Add the blanched kale and process together with the nuts until a paste forms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lemon juice all over. Close the processor, and add the olive oil as a stream.  Once the oil is incorporated, stop to scrape the sides of the bowl, add yogurt and process until everything is smooth.   Taste, adjust seasoning, and reserve.

Meanwhile, cook farfalle pasta until al dente, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.  When the pasta is cooked, mix with the pesto, and add the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce, if necessary.   Serve with plenty of parmigiano-reggiano cheese grated on top.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I’ve seen recipes for kale pesto in which the raw leaves are processed with the usual suspects (garlic and olive oil).  I decided it would be too harsh for our taste, so  I took the extra step of blanching the leaves.  If you are a garlic lover, add a couple of cloves together with the walnuts.   I loved this version of pesto,  and even used some as a spread for a ham sandwich at lunch next day.   All amounts are a bit eye-balled,  if you like the flavor of olive oil to be more pronounced, use more and omit or reduce the yogurt.   Don’t leave the lemon juice out, though – it adds that citric brightness that is a must in this recipe.

For additional kale inspirations, a small sample of recipes from the internet:  

Kale Gratin … A nice recipe from Taste Food,  she used spinach, but I think kale would be great too

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash… from Eats Well with Others

Kale Frittata... from My Kitchen in the Rockies

Golden Chard Pie… from the early days of my blog

Kale Chips… from not so early days of my blog

and for an interesting twist on this great veggie, take a look at these cute Quinoa and Kale Patties

ONE YEAR AGO:  Short and Sweet

TWO YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

36 thoughts on “THE MANY FACES OF KALE

  1. I’ve a relative new-comer to the kale party and have only been preparing for some 5 or 6 years now. I’ve never made kale pesto but your recipe sure does sound good, Sally. I think I need to make a batch. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Soup and a gratin are about as adventurous as I’ve gotten with kale but this pesto looks like a winner as well. Kale chips … not convinced that it’s worth the time and effort to fry them. Certainly not as a substitute for real chips. I’ll just have a smaller portion less often. 🙂


    • The kale chips are baked, not fried, and they are soooooo easy to make, it’s amazing! I suppose one could fry them, but it would probably turn very oily and maybe go limp too easily, I don’t know. The oven baking dries them out and crisps them up nicely. You can also vary the spices sprinkled on top during roasting… really nice method to do it


  3. For some reason I thought they were fried. 😦

    I tried the baked chickpeas with spices a while back as a healthy substitute for my favourite Ruffles sour cream and bacon chips and was not convinced. I think I’ll stick to my kale and chorizo soup … and this pasta pesto dish the next time I have kale in the house. 🙂


    • I’ve tried the baked chickpeas, and to me it was a disappointment – I expected a lot of cruch, go mushiness instead. I haven’t given up on that approach, but feel I need to get THE perfect recipe


      • I started out with my own home cooked chickpeas cause I’m just that cheap that I don’t buy the canned. (I used the rest for hummus and chickpea curry so the work was minimal.) I found that I just had to bake it a bit longer to get it really dry and crunchy. But it’s never going to have the same crunchy texture of chips (Doritos and Cheetos are other snack favourites) so it’s not really a good substitute. The taste/spiciness level was ok and I don’t care for sweet flavours anyway.

        I may be too cynical bu I doubt that ANY recipe would be an improvement


  4. Living Down Under, I’m also a relative newie to the kale scene, but big pots in my vegetable garden are definitely promising. Love the idea of making it into pesto: yes, I would add some garlic, but like your idea of adding yogurt also 🙂 !


  5. I see we process meal planning alike!! Now, why have I not thought of kale pesto!! I’m so excited, I’m making some tonight! I always have kale on hand for juicing and try to make something with it during the week, now this is perfect!! I like dropping a spoonful of pesto in my soups and I’ll feel really good about it being kale! I would blanch the kale too, great tip. Lots of garlic for me!


    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one – I feel I’m always like a kid in a toy store, going from one toy to another, not sure what to play with. That’s me and cookbooks. Me and the convoluted process of deciding on a recipe for dinner!


  6. I agree, settling is definitely not the word to describe this delightful dish – what a great idea using Kale as a base for pesto! It looks fantastic too; can’t beat the colours of nature, I always say ;-). (Love the pinch of hot peppers for those of us who are hooked on our endorphin hit! :)).


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