Happy 2014! I apologize for the gaps in posting… like about half the country, Michigan got pounded with a few intense snowstorms over a span of 10 days, and then our temperatures plummeted for a while (on a Tuesday, our wind chill was -40° [yeah, you read that right]… 3 days later, on Friday, our high was 42°). Trying to accomplish everyday activities while fighting 2 feet of snow gets exhausting pretty quickly; and the crazy, intense cold lead to a lot of evenings where I refused to come out from under a pile of 7 blankets, for fear of frostbite. So, no posting. But, the weather has relaxed a little bit, the temperatures no longer begin with a negative sign, and I can once again feel my hands!
I realized a couple days ago that I had a giant bunch of kale wilting away in the fridge. It was definitely past its prime, and no longer good for salads. I’m not a huge fan of cooked greens, so I knew my options were limited… and suddenly, it occurred to me that kale would probably make a great pesto! I set about making a pesto with things I had on hand, and it turned out REALLY good. If you have yet to jump on the kale bandwagon, and you’d like to give it a try, this recipe would be an excellent jumping off point.
Linguine with Kale Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Shaved Parmesan
serves 4-6 as a main course, 8-10 as a side
1 lb linguine, cooked until al dente
2 cups of kale, packed (stripped of any stems)
good handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed*
3 cloves garlic
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil, approximately 1/2 cup
cherry tomatoes, halved
*You can use walnuts if you prefer. I actually intended to use walnuts, but then I realized I didn’t have any – and it was a happy accident, as I think the hazelnuts were really fantastic paired with the kale.
1.) Start by washing your kale, and drying it really well. Get your pasta water going (don’t forget to salt it very well before you add the pasta!), and cook the pasta as directed.
2.) Add everything except the olive oil to a food processor, and pulse several times, until the mixture is well-chopped, but still a little chunky (make sure the hazelnuts and garlic cloves aren’t still in large pieces).
3.) Turn the processor on, and drizzle in about 1/3 cup of the olive oil. The amount of olive oil you’ll need will depend on the amount of moisture in your kale, how juicy the lemon was, etc. Keep drizzling olive oil (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed) until the pesto has reached a good sauce-like consistency – a little loose, but not soupy.
4.) Pour the pesto into a large serving bowl; when the pasta is done, add it directly to the bowl full of pesto. Toss the linguine with the pesto – add a couple tablespoons of the starchy pasta water if the pesto isn’t coating the pasta well.
5.) Serve the pasta immediately, topped with shavings of fresh parmesan and the halved cherry tomatoes.
This pesto is SO DELICIOUS. It’s fresh, and light, but with a nice richness from the parmesan and hazelnuts. The lemon juice and zest keep the whole thing bright. It’s one of those rare dishes that feels hearty enough for a cold winter day, but would also make a really delicious cold pasta salad for a summer picnic. I’m debating how I’ll use the leftover pesto – I’m thinking I’ll either drizzle it over some roasted potatoes, or mix it with brown rice as a side dish!
I promise you, kale is seriously delicious!