Today we’ve got a twist on a traditional pesto…specifically a kale and walnut pesto combo.
As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I made a few healthy additions to my lifestyle, things I felt like I could manage. The first was guzzling a full glass of water before getting up every morning, and the second was making sure I ate a healthy breakfast every day. I also started to make sure I took vitamins every day.
This meal was about the last one—trying to eat more raw foods.
Cooking foods can make them more delicious, but can also destroy valuable nutrients and enzymes.
That’s not to say you should never eat anything cooked, but adding more raw foods to your diet (such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts) can significantly up the amount of benefits you’re getting from your food.
Of course, the best way to really get the most out of your food is to make sure you’re buying local and organic, since the longer since a food has been harvested, the more it loses. That’s not always feasible—either financially or availability-wise—but I am trying to get certain things organic, such as apples and carrots (two of the worst pesticide-contaminated foods).
This organic dino kale was in my CSA box, so it checks both boxes. Rather than sauteeing it up like I normally do, I decided to puree it with some raw walnuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a little ground flaxseed for a different take on pesto.
Toss with some curly pasta, and you get the best of both worlds—cooked whole grains with a potent creamy raw sauce. I toasted a few walnuts to throw on top, or if you don’t care as much about raw foods then you could toast all your walnuts before making the pesto.
Set a pot of water to boil, then add some salt and the pasta. Cook according to directions, minus a minute or two (al dente is best, particularly for whole wheat pasta). I’ve made this with both regular and whole wheat pasta, and am showing a combination of photos of both in this post.
Remove the stems from the kale (I practically filleted them like steak), and roughly chop up the leaves.
Mince up some garlic. It’s better for this dish to use fresh garlic, not the kind in a jar, but either will work.
Throw the kale, garlic, walnuts (toasted if you don’t care about raw food), some parmesan, sea salt, lemon juice, and a few glugs of olive oil into a food processor.
Process on high until you get a creamy pesto. You may have to do a first batch, then add some more kale to the food processor once it’s reduced in volume some.
Reserve about a half cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and toss with the pesto (a little more olive oil or some butter wouldn’t go amiss).
Serve hot and fresh, but it’s great leftover too. It has some bite from the kale and fresh garlic!
If you can’t get your hands on fresh basil, or just want to try something new, this kale and walnut pesto is a cool twist!
Other pesto dishes you’ll love:
- Authentic Ligurian Trofie Pasta by Hand (with Fresh Pesto)
- Giovanna’s Traditional Pasta con Pesto
- Pasta with Fresh Sweet Corn Pesto
Kale & Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups of roughly chopped, packed kale (about 1 small bunch; dino is better, but curly works)
- 3/4 cup of raw walnuts
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (more if desired)
- Optional: 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta (it can be whole grain, & short, curly pasta is better for pesto)
- 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water
Set a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a handful of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the directions, minus a minute or two (you want it al dente).
Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop it, then add to the food processor. If you don’t care about raw food, toast the walnuts; reserve a few for topping.
Mince the garlic and add it, the raw walnuts, some parmesan, sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Process until the pesto is good and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary. It’s okay for it to be a little thick, you’ll thin it out with the reserved pasta water. Add the pesto to a large bowl, with some more parmesan and a tablespoon of butter (or some more olive oil).
Reserve some pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add to the large bowl with the pesto and toss to coat. Serve hot and fresh, but it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
Adapted from Cookie & Kate
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