I thought kale was a winter vegetable.
Then I read about all the summer harvests of fresh kale in the gardening blogs I follow.
Turns out kale is actually a really hearty plant that grows all year long.
I might have actually learned this on my own if I had planted my first garden this summer, as I intended to do.
But time ran (bolted. sprinted.) away from me, just like it seems to every summer (it must be a universally recognized fact that days move at 3 times the pace in sunny summer months versus dreary winter months.)
So after I finally got my facts straight on kale, I thought: what could me more perfect for a warm summer evening than a light and crisp summer veggie pasta smothered with lots of kale pesto and Parmesan?
Turns out, not much.
This pasta is so bright and fresh yet satisfyingly creamy and cheesy at the same time.
And it’s pretty quick and simple to make too.
Here are all the fresh, summery ingredients you’ll need to get started.
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.
Arrange some pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast the pine nuts for a few minutes.
And just keep a really close eye on them so you get them out of the oven when they’re still beautifully light golden and not a charred black (you’ve learned from the master of burnt pine nuts).
Grab a clove of garlic and press your knife down flat on the clove, smashing. This makes it easy to peel away the outer skin. No need to take the time to mince it because it will be puréed in a food processor later.
Also roughly chop up half an onion into quarters.
Again, you only need to chop it up enough so the food processor can do all the real work later.
If nothing else, please know that this blog will always offer you my best, tried-and-true, lazy shortcuts.
Heat up some extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
And add the garlic, onion, and lots of fresh kale.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Saute this mixture until the veggies are nicely softened.
Scoop about half of the kale mixture into a food processor and purée.
Then scoop the remaining kale, along with any remaining olive oil they cooked in, into the food processor. Add the toasted pine nuts and pulse again until you have a thick, well-puréed pesto.
If you’ve thought about cooking with kale, but haven’t ventured there yet, this kale pesto is an easy and tasty place to start!
And if you already love kale, this thick and creamy pesto preparation offers a new twist on a classic pesto made with basil.
For all those who didn’t quite get around to growing their own fresh basil this summer (yes, my hand is raised) kale is generally cheaper and holds up so much better and longer in the fridge.
It’s incredibly healthy too. The list of health benefits from eating kale goes on and on and on: low in calories (only about 35 calories in a cup), high in fiber (to keep you feeling full, lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease), high in Vitamins A, C, and K (provides anti-cancer health benefits), lots of lutein (to keep your eyes strong and healthy) and even a good dose of calcium (for strong bones).
So yup, you can feel pretty good about loading up your plate with a generous portion of kale pesto.
Next, grab a red bell pepper and slice off each of the four sides.
This leaves the stem and seeds intact and easy to throw away.
Cut each quarter into thin strips, lengthwise. Then run your knife in the opposite direction, dicing up the pepper.
Grab a zucchini and chop off both ends.
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise …
… and then cut the first half into thin strips.
Then run your knife in the opposite direction, dicing the zucchini.
Repeat the exact same process used for the zucchini to dice up the summer squash.
My squash happened to be very thin on one end and very thick on the other. So I added the step of cutting it in half before cutting the thin strips. This makes it easier to cut and helps keep the chopped squash all uniformly sized.
Grab some real Parmigiano Reggiano (you’ll know it’s the real deal when you see it labeled on the rind as pictured!) and grate it.
Next, heat up a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add the diced red pepper, zucchini, and summer squash and season well with salt and pepper.
Cook until the veggies are nicely softened.
While the veggies are cooking, boil a large pot of salted water and add some whole wheat penne. When the pasta is just cooked through (al dente), drain the pasta but be sure to hang on to the water the pasta was boiled in because…
… the next step is to stir and combine the cooked pasta, the Kale Pesto, and about 1/4 of cup of the pasta water.
The pasta water helps thin out the pesto and helps the pesto cling to the penne (so much lighter and healthier than adding super-high-calorie olive oil to thin out the pesto).
Finally, stir in the sautéed veggies and all that delicious Parmesan.
What I love about this pasta: The sautéed kale and onion lend a slightly sweet flavor to the nutty pesto.
Which tastes so irresistibly tasty with the salty, melted Parmesan.
This dish tastes really bright, crisp, and fresh.
With just enough creamy, nutty pesto and Parmesan to make it indulgent.
Here is the complete recipe:
This looks lovely, and I bet it tastes even better!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who let the ball drop on starting a garden this summer.
I’ve always been a little nervous about kale, but as you say, this is a great place to start. Your summer veggie pasta looks absolutely delicious!
wow this looks so colourful and appetizing!
This is a gorgeous looking pasta salad! I love pesto with veggies and pasta! Must try!
I totally love kale, eat it every day. In my smoothies, in salads and sautes, not to mention chips. This looks great!
Kale pesto?! That sounds amazing. I’m in love with kale and this sounds like a great new way to eat it. Thanks!
Love pasta with veggies. The idea of kale pesto sounds delicious. Thanks for the idea.
Glad you like the idea! If you try it, let me know how you like it 🙂
Little, chef …. this looks so good .. I can feel the smell *smile – great pasta, even if I’m not a vegetarian I would enjoy a big plate or bowl of this. Ever thought of doing pesto of kale – don’t really like kale – but this really speaks to me. Put on file. How is the gorgeous Calvin doing … ???? Time for new photos now.
What a great idea – I enjoy kale but think that I’d LOVE it as pesto x You’ve also reminded me that I need to grow some myself pretty soon!
What a summery delicious pasta 😀
Choc Chip Uru
I was confused about when kale is in season, too, but I keep seeing it at the farmer’s market, so I just keep buying it! I only recently tried kale chips, and am looking for new ways to cook up my kale. This looks soooo good.
I love your lightened up pesto! This is truly the perfect summer pasta dish.
Oh my gosh! This looks delicious. I saw a similar dish about a month ago but this one looks much healthier and more appealing to me – it leaves out Half & Half which is a good thing 🙂
I don’t really like kale but I would try this! You made it look so good.
Yum! This looks and sounds wonderful!
This looks delicious! And perfect timing, I just bought some kale in order to make your winter pasta recipe with kale…and needed to buy a HUGE bunch because that was how the grocer sold it. I was going to make chips, but I might give this a crack as well and impress the man with my amazing cooking 🙂
Also, he grew up with beagles and is hanging out for more photos of your beagle pup 😛
To add: cooked it, and it was a hit! And left-over kale pesto (there was a lot) is also amazing in toasted sandwiches 🙂 Thank you muchly for the recipe, it went down a treat!
Kale pesto…brilliant! And I DO have kale in my garden x
this looks amazing and healthy and the kale pesto sounds amazing! I really need to try some kale.
What a hearty, healthy and delicious looking pasta dish!!! Love the kale pesto!
This looks so good! Your pastas are always amazing!
The kale pesto sounds so yummy with the fresh, vibrant veggie pasta!
I’m always curious about kale. Kale pesto sounds like a reaaaaally great idea.
Awesome Blog! I have nominated you for a blog award http://aboutthepout.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/well-this-is-exciting/
This summer is the first time that I’ve made both chard and kale pesto, and am I ever pleased with the discovery! So good for you, so delicious! I love the whole concept here – wonderful!
Looks tasty! Here’s my reason to buy a big bag of kale!
I love summer pasta dishes like this. I don’t cook with kale often enough – a pesto sounds great!
KALE pesto!! You genius, you! I adore kale and I have never seen someone make pesto out of it! Your pasta looks delicious and I can’t wait to whip up a batch of kale pesto!
This looks like something I would like to eat now 🙂
I love the colors in this dish, looks like it would be a beautiful crowd-pleaser! I must try it; pesto is a staple of mine! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Your blog is so cute! And this looks super yummy. 😉
Your blog is always so informative and has such great photographs. Just wanted you to know that I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award because I enjoy reading your posts.. You can find out about it on my post “Unexpected Blessings” at illumylife.wordpress.com. Blessings to you.
I love this! It’d be great to make at the beginning of the week for lunches all week. Great job, the flavors seems so bright!
Hey lady, I wanted to share the Very Inspiring Blogger award with you. I have adored your recipes since I first laid eyes on your blog months ago and I think you are so sweet and supportive to other bloggers. Your work is always very fun, creative and beautiful! See details for the award: http://roastedrootfood.com/2012/9/2/seasons-summer-flowers-a-nomination I hope you had a great weekend and I look forward to your next post!
I know this is an old post, but I just discovered it and wanted to leave you a note anyway.
For the first time this year, I signed up for a CSA box from my local farmer’s market. And, for the last 4 weeks, I’ve wasted beautiful bundles of kale as they wilted away in my fridge because I didn’t take the time to figure out what to do with them. Not today. Still having last week’s summer squash and kale in the fridge, I found MORE in this week’s box today. Google landed me here with the perfect storm of what I wanted, (if you include the pesto craving I’ve had lately, and my inability to find fresh basil anywhere).
Anyway. I wanted to tell you I made the kale pesto and can’t stop spooning it into my mouth while I wait for dinner time. It’s. So. Good! I’ll be sauteing summer squash, garlic scapes and a giant leek-looking onion (also from my CSA box) to be tossed with this pesto for dinner tonight. Thank you for this recipe. I know I’ll be making it over and over. (I’ve got some tiny, TINY red potatoes on my counter calling out to be some sort of salad. Perhaps a pesto potato salad?)
Thanks so much for your note, I’m so glad you found a good use for all that fresh kale (that pesto potato salad idea sounds delish by the way)! It’s true this is an older post, but thanks for reminding me of an old favorite I’m going to have to make again… 🙂