It Happened: Kale

This is one of those times when I wish I was the kind of person who could belt out as loud as I can, arms stretched to the sky,  “Looord, haaavvve merrrrcy!!!” Unfortunately, I’m a petite Jewish girl from New Jersey and it wouldn’t quite come out right. But I felt that way, at least in my head as I watched my son, Ben chow down on his bowlful of kale pesto. I kid you not. Every bite he took, I just imaged the antioxidants swimming around in his little body, all those vitamins performing their magic.

I need to say that this was a long time coming. It started last summer when we planted basil and my kids each had their own pot. There was this miracle day when they picked fresh basil (grown with their own hands from seed!) and started tossing the leaves into the food processor to make pesto. I was doubtful that their interest would go beyond shooting basil hoops into the processor basket, but at dinner, they actually ate it. I couldn’t believe it. So now, we’ve had basil pesto from time to time, sometimes with success and sometimes not. But I thought to myself, hey, that rice experiment went so well, I’m going to try that out with pesto! (I realize that no, that experiment was a total fail, but the idea is solid, right?) Why not make kale pesto?

So I went about my business, making family dinner, Jewish guilt in full force thinking that my kids will starve tonight. It got the best of me because I heated up a couple fish sticks on the side just in case. (Sorry, but sometimes I just need a little something to take the edge off. ) But my worries were for naught because at least one of my sons scarfed those noodles down and asked for more. Twice.

This is kale I’m talking about. The king of all things green. The super power wonder veg.

Needless to say, I celebrated that night with other antioxidants in the form of red wine, because you know, we’re really into this whole health kick thing. And I might have even topped it off with dark chocolate. I’m basically like superwoman right now. So watch out.

Kale Pesto Pasta

1/2 bunch large kale, rinsed and leaves torn off of stems

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan for about 4 minutes until turning golden

about 2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1/2 pound pasta

Boil water for pasta in a large stock pot. Salt the water well when boiled. Toss in kale leaves and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and add to bowl of food processor. Add pasta to your water and follow directions on box.

In your food processor with the kale, add your peeled garlic, toasted pine nuts and salt and blend, making sure all is blended. With motor running, slowly add oil until it reaches a consistency that is not too runny. Transfer to a bowl and stir in your grated parmesan cheese.

Remove a 1/2 cup of pasta water and put aside before draining pasta. Drain, add pesto into your pot (you may not need all of it, add about half first and you can always add more later), add your noodles and your reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. Season with more salt, if needed and add more pesto if needed.


15 thoughts on “It Happened: Kale

  1. Heck yes! I just tried making kale pesto for the first time recently! i forgot the Parmesan.. but it was still so green and rich and delicious. I totally share your excitement that the kiddos went crazy for it! 🙂

  2. Robin, this supports my theory that the smaller we can make the vegetable pieces, the more easily they will be accepted by our smaller people. Looks delicious and also like a good way to remedy my current “I have way too much kale” situation. Trying this one tomorrow!

  3. Dear Freshly Pressed,
    Thank you for including a blog that not only has delish-looking food, but whose author makes me laugh… So glad I found you- and congrats!
    Check me out at sometime!

  4. I love it. Funny how changing up the appearance and texture of a food can make it so much more acceptable to little minds and mouths! I also find that calling anything “pesto” helps. 🙂

  5. I love good, homemade food. And, I LOVE your healthy spin on dishes. If you are able to occasionally trick your kiddos in to eating healthy then it must be amazing!!

    I’m following your blog now & look forward to see what other tricks you have up your sleeve!

    If you’d like to check me out I’m at
    My blog has a little bit of everything but I’m excitedly sharing my gardening adventures this summer as well as the resulting healthy dishes that couldn’t come fresher!

  6. I have got to try this recipe. My boys (picky picky picky) eat pasta (since about 9 months ago – yeah)…but it has to be super simple, olive oil and garlic salt. 3 days ago one actually ate pasta with red sauce! I wonder if you have any ideas for adding the good stuff (like Kale) in a way that they can’t suspect it? Sneaky-like.

    1. Mix it in with the red sauce! If they are eating that, just start small- maybe not that much, then work your way up. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

  7. In our case, this isn’t really a trick. My daughter happens to loves “kale chips.” We lightly coat with olive oil & sea salt, then bake. She also loves basil pesto, so she was super psyched when I asked if she wanted kale pesto pasta for dinner. There was some dancing around the kitchen with a definite “woo hoo” in response. I shall report the results.

    1. I would kill for that response! The day my kids do a happy dance to anything dark green, there will be serious celebrations in our house! I’m lucky this went over so well!

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