Fettucine with Kale Pesto

This recipe is a great find! We received a “heaping helping” of kale from our local farm food share, and like many others, we assume, were unsure what to do with the leafy green stuff. Not that we are afraid of salad greens, but kale seemed to fit into the overarching category of “bitter greens with names like mustard that nutritionists love, but everyone else gags on.” Needless to say, we could not have been more wrong, and this recipe was the answer to our prayers. Not only does it make good use of the tasty kale, it fills a gap for wintertime pesto! No longer will we need to thaw bags of frozen cilantro pesto, carefully meted out to last the year. (Although the frozen pesto is good, too!) Now we have an extremely flavorful choice.

A moment to extol the virtues of kale. As one physician wrote: “One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.” The link is here.

This recipe comes from the November 2012 issue of Prevention magazine, and the website for recipes is here. However, there seems to be a delay in when current recipes appear on that website, so we include the recipe in its entirety for our readers. We hope you enjoy this variation on pesto as much as we do. (By the way, we used farfalle instead of fettucine in our version, used only 4 Tbsp olive oil, and we cut out the extra cheese suggested as a topper. We also re-used the water we boiled the kale in to cook the pasta!)


4 cups stemmed, chopped kale (about 1 bunch)

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp red-pepper flakes

1 lb. fettucine or pappardelle

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese



Make pesto: bring large pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Plunge kale into boiling water and cook 3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer kale to ice bath. (This keeps the kale bright green.) After 3 minutes, drain kale in colander, then squeeze it firmly to press out excess water.

Put kale, ½ cup cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and red-pepper flakes in food processor and puree until smooth. (Makes 1 cup.) Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. (Keeps up to 3 days.)

Prepare pasta. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook until al dente, per package directions. Just before the pasta is done, remove 2 Tbsp of the pasta cooking water and add it to the pesto. Add cheese and mix well.

Drain pasta and toss with pesto. Serve with extra cheese if desired.

As written in the magazine, each serving has 549 calories, 20 grams protein, 63 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 25 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, and 717 milligrams sodium.

Here’s a picture of our version of the dish, along with some cherry tomatoes for color and flavor.

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