Chinese
Kale Pesto Pasta

This kale pesto pasta is made with just cabbage. Without the basil, I find it to be a more economical way to make pesto. It's also one you can enjoy year-round, when basil isn't as plentiful at the grocery store (or in your garden).

An easy and cheap black cabbage pesto

Pesto is an expensive proposition. Sure, there are times during the summer when basil may be plentiful in your garden or at the farmers market.

However, this is quite an expensive undertaking when you consider the pine nuts, the liberal use of extra virgin olive oil, and the Parmesan cheese that costs $20 a pound.

Unless you grow it yourself, it can be quite expensive to buy the amount of basil needed to make a good batch of pesto. Kale, on the other hand, you can buy a lot of! It makes a great tasting pesto that doesn’t sacrifice flavor.

ingredients black cabbage pesto

Basil is expensive!

These days, the affordability of basil has improved, but only a little! For example, I was happy to see some supermarkets ditching those anemic bunches of basil. You know who I'm talking about, with that sad lump of earth that has no chance of surviving in a pot after you remove the leaves from it to garnish the pasta.

These days, I'm more likely to buy a box full of basil, similar to pre-washed salads. It's a much more rewarding way to buy basil, and you get a lot more out of it too!

A great way to use kale

I love kale, but sometimes I buy a bag of it at the beginning of the week, and by the end of the week, I just don't want to eat it anymore.

This kale pesto is a great way to turn kale into an irresistible dish and make it freezer-friendly, too. The recipe uses 10 cups. That's a lot of kale!

Kale pesto can be used just as you would regular pesto. I think it’s great with this pasta, but you can also serve it with grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon, on a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, on pizza or bruschetta, or in a pasta salad. It might just become your new favorite use for kale!

Only pasta with kale pesto with parmesan and Aleppo chili pepper

Instructions for starting and storing

Make this pesto ahead of time and refrigerate it for 4-5 days, as long as you cover it with a layer of olive oil.

If it lasts longer, I would recommend freezing it in an airtight container. (Again, with that layer of oil on top to preserve the green color.)

Portion it into pint or half-pint containers (I save them for takeout), so you can just take it all and mix it right into a pound of cooked pasta.

Kale pesto recipe instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil on the stove to cook the pasta.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and kale. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to process in batches or add the kale a handful at a time.

With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. The pesto should come together relatively quickly, but let the food processor run for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is completely pulverized.

pouring extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube of the food processor to prepare the pesto

The water should be boiling at this point. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the cooking time is almost up, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water in a heatproof measuring cup.

Store the pasta cooking water in a measuring cup

Drain the pasta and transfer to a large pan over medium-low heat.

put the cooked rigatoni in the pan

Add half of the pesto. (You will have the remaining half of the pesto: about 1 1/4 cups left to freeze for another day.)

adding pesto to rigatoni in the pan

Stir the pesto into the pasta, gradually adding a little pasta water until you obtain a silky and “creamy” sauce.

Sprinkle the pasta with grated parmesan and a few flakes of Aleppo pepper. If desired, you can also garnish with a little zest from that lemon you squeezed for the pesto.

Serve!

Kale Pesto Pasta

Kale Pesto Pasta

This Kale Pesto Pasta is made with only kale. It's a cheaper way to enjoy pesto all year round when basil is scarce, and it's just as tasty!

Pasta with black cabbage pesto, parmesan and Aleppo chili pepper

serve: 6

Instructions

  • Put a large pot of salted water on to boil to cook the pasta.

  • In the bowl of a food processor, add garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and kale. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to prepare everything in batches or add the kale a handful at a time.

  • With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. The pesto should come together relatively quickly, but let the food processor run for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is completely pulverized.

  • At this point, the water should boil. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When cooking time is almost complete, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water in a heatproof measuring cup. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large skillet over medium-low heat.

  • Add half of the pesto (freeze the rest for another day!). Stir the pesto into the pasta, gradually adding a little pasta water until you get a silky, “creamy” sauce.

  • Sprinkle the pasta with grated parmesan and a few flakes of Aleppo chili pepper. If you like, you can also garnish with a little zest from that lemon you squeezed for the pesto. Serve!

Tips and Notes:

Note: Recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of pesto. Use half for 1 pound of pasta and freeze the rest (about 1 1/4 cups) for another day! Nutrition information is for 1 pound of pasta, plus half the pesto. To freeze, transfer to a pint container, pour a thin layer of olive oil over top, cover, and freeze.

nutritional values

Calories: 484kcal (24%) Carbohydrates: 58G (19%) Protein: 12G (24%) Fat: 22G (34%) Saturated fats: 4G (20%) Polyunsaturated fats: 3G Monounsaturated fat: 14G Cholesterol: 3mg (1%) Sodium: 372mg (16%) Potassium: 259mg (7%) Fiber: 3G (12%) Sugar: 2G (2%) Vitamin A: 1782UI (36%) C vitamin: 17mg (21%) Soccer: 114mg (11%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

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