Kale Pesto Orecchiette

By • January 2, 2014 • 4 Comments

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Author Notes: Here's a not-so-traditional pesto recipe -- hold the herbs and nuts. The recipe yields enough pesto for two dishes, so you can stock up the freezer! Any pasta could be used with the pesto, but I love how the orecchiette cups hold onto pools of pesto.Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Food52 Review: This is a great recipe to transition from summer to fall. A garden-fresh, family meal that's hearty but light, fresh, and filling. And the extra pesto you make is a time-saver for a future meal.Mid-Mitten Homemade

Makes 4 servings, plus 1 container of pesto for the freezer

  • 2 bunches (about two cups) lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound (1 box) orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  1. This recipe makes about double what you need for pasta. I made the pesto and put half of it in the freezer for a super easy meal down the road.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the kale and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Cover and let steam and cook for 8 minutes, until the kale is soft.
  3. In a food processor, pulse together the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, white vinegar, kale mixture, and a dash of salt and pepper about 8 times. Blend everything together as you pour 3/4 cup olive oil into the food processor in a slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.
  4. Transfer about half of the pesto, which should be about 1 to 2 cups total, to a large serving bowl. Add the other half to a sealable container and pop in the freezer.
  5. Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the box in salty water. Before draining, add 1/2 cup pasta water to the pesto in the bowl. Drain the pasta and add it directly to the pesto. Combine everything with two wooden spoons and serve hot.
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Comments (4) Questions (0)


12 days ago Ubaldo

It looks interesting...I think this dishe is similar to a traditional dish in souther of Italy ( Bari) where the pasta orecchiette is originated. The dish is made with rapini and toasted with hot olive oil and anchovies. I'll try this variation


12 days ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Hope you enjoy it, Ubaldo!


11 days ago Ubaldo

Thanks, it was very good! How did you come across this dish?
Ciao, Ubaldo


9 months ago Lizthechef

Nice - I'm going to try this.