Kale Pesto Orecchiette

By • January 2, 2014 12 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 (12) Questions (0)

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5 months ago AngelaM-E

We just made this for dinner last night. It was delicious. The second half of the pesto won't be in the freezer long ;). Thanks for a great recipe!!

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5 months ago akkenedy

Just made the pesto portion of the dish and put it on wholewheat pizza. Daughters (age 3 and age 1) loved it! Thanks for the inspiration!

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5 months ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Such a great idea for the pesto! I think I'll have to do it myself!

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5 months ago Gale in England, U.K.

Thank you. :)

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5 months ago Gale in England, U.K.

Hi
I cannot find red pepper flakes.

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5 months ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Hi Gale - Any type of dried chilies would be fine for this one. Just something to give it a little kick. If no dried chili flakes, you could use about 1/4 tsp of chili powder as a replacement. Cheers!

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8 months ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

I just made this and it was DELISH! We had a kitchen disaster last week(burst pipe) and I made it in a cast iron pan on my hot plate, and threw it into the Vitamix. We were laughing and what a beautiful meal we made on a hot plate. Thanks for the great recipe!

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8 months ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

So glad you guys enjoyed the recipe amid a small disaster! Hope the kitchen is back in order soon!

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9 months 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

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9 months ago Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast

Hope you enjoy it, Ubaldo!

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9 months ago Ubaldo

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

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over 1 year ago Lizthechef

Nice - I'm going to try this.