Much of my inspiration to come up with recipes for the blog are from the seasonal, fresh ingredients themselves, but an equal amount comes from what other cooks and food writers are whipping up.
This particular recipe is inspired by Melissa Clark’s recipe, found in The New York Times dining section. I’ve made kale pesto before, but really wasn’t a fan until her recipe came along. Raw kale pesto tasted too green-grassy and I truly wasn’t enjoying it––and really, if I’m eating pasta, it better be damn good because I’m incredibly particular about my pasta. Anyways, the solution to make kale pesto palatable (to my taste, at least) was very simple.
Simply steam the kale before blending (she blanched it). Just a light steaming takes away that raw edge that can sometimes turn people into kale-avoiders––and I know you’re out there.
Feel free to keep the kale raw, but you’ll lose that muted, mellow kale taste and be left with something a bit acrid, smelling and tasting like lawn clippings. No thank you. (By the way, a little health perk of steaming the kale: it helps to break down the plant cell walls for greater nutrient absorption, as well as reducing the amount of thyroid-disrupting goitrogens.)
In the NYT article, Clark added roasted squash to the top of the pasta. I chose to adorn the viridescent noodles with scarlet cubes of roasted beet. The glossy little gems acted as a delectably sweet, textural contrast to the hearty green pesto and slurpable noodles. Sweet potatoes would also be wonderful, I imagine. Carb-on-carb is what you want.
Mellow Vegan Kale Pesto
An easy vegan cooked kale pesto for pasta recipe. Instead of blanching the kale, I’ve steamed it, helping to retain its vitamins and minerals.
Inspired by: Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash, by Melissa Clark of The New York Times
1 small or 1/2 large bunch kale (a few stems okay)
3 Tbsp pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp ground pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pasta & Beets
1 pound gluten-free brown rice spaghetti OR pasta of choice
1/2 pound roasted beets, cut into small cubes (learn how to roast beets in [url:5]this post[/url])
Pine nuts, to serve
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- Make the kale pesto: In a steamer insert or basket, steam kale until bright green and slightly wilted (1 to 2 minutes); pat dry and set aside. In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced. Add pine nuts and pulse again. Add reserved steamed kale and remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Thin with additional olive oil, if desired. Transfer to a jar or sealed container.
- Make the pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions (7-8 minutes for gluten-free brown rice spaghetti, usually), drain and rinse with hot water (skip rinsing if using regular (not gluten-free) pasta). Add back to pot along with pesto (you may not want to use it all). Toss hot pasta with pesto over the same element (turned off or on very low) to gently reheat.
- Assemble the plates: Add pasta to bowls or a large platter. Top with beet cubes and a sprinkling of pine nuts. Serve immediately.