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Kale Pesto Pasta with Walnuts

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Vegetarian
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

Using kale to make the pesto means you pack tons of veggies into the sauce so dig in to a huge bowl of pasta and call it Plant Forward. Use regular fettuccine, spaghetti or soba noodles for an earthy flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (divided, plus another Tablespoon for the pasta water)
  • 1 bunch Green Kale
  • 12 package Fettuccine Pasta (check package to equal serving size you’re making)
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 14 cup Walnuts (divided)
  • 12 cup Parmesan Cheese (plus more for plating)
  • 1 Lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 bunch Basil
  • 14 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO BOIL

    Add a generous amount of salt so the water is as salty as the sea (1 Tablespoon is usually good).

  • 2. KALE

    Wash the kale and coarsely chop it, except for the very thick ends at the bottom (you can toss those out). Plunge the kale into the pasta water and boil for about 1 minute. Use tongs or a strainer to pull out the kale and add it directly into a blender.

  • 3. PASTA

    Let the water continue boiling, and cook pasta according to the package instructions.

  • 4. PESTO

    To the blender, add the garlic, 2/3 of the walnuts, ½ of the parmesan and the lemon zest. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Pull the leaves off of the entire bunch of basil. I usually just chop off the lower, thick stems and use the leaves and upper stems in the pesto. Also add about 1 - 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and blend. If needed, scrape down the blender sides and keep blending. While it’s running, stream in the juice of the lemon, and another 2 - 4 Tablespoons of olive oil until it’s smooth and you like the consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed.

  • 5. WALNUTS

    You can toast the remaining walnuts or not. This is completely up to your taste preferences.

  • 6. TOSS

    Toss drained pasta generously with kale pesto. Drizzle with more olive oil if needed.

  • 7. SERVING

    Serve garnished with as much more parmesan as you like and the reserved walnuts.

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Substitutions

  • GLUTEN FREE:
    use your favorite GF pasta, OR look for 100% buckwheat soba
  • PALEO:
    omit cheese and serve over zucchini noodles
  • FETTUCCINE:
    any pasta is ok. Soba noodles add an earthy flavor and cook very quickly
  • WALNUTS:
    omit and replace with sunflower seeds or hemp seeds if allergic. Use pine nuts, pistachios, almonds or cashews instead if preferred

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Use regular spaghetti for everyone if you’re worried about the soba's grey color. Keep the pesto on the side and offer a slice of toast or carrots for dipping in to try and taste it
  • Serve with orange slices

For Toddlers

  • The walnuts should be ok if you’ve been exposing them to nuts, but omit if you’re unsure
  • Cut the noodles into small sections and don’t top with any chunky nuts

For Choosy Eaters

  • Make recipe with plain spaghetti, offer it buttered with parmesan but try a dip or a bite with pesto perhaps - at least offer a tiny bit on the plate
  • Fill out with fruit or avocado, yogurt or cheese and bread

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

Make the pesto. Keeps in the fridge for a week or more. If the top discolors, just stir it in, or to prevent it, store without any air (press parchment or wax paper to the top of the pesto service)

Rate this recipe:
1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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