Fusilli with Kale-Cashew Pesto

February  8, 2018
4 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

This pesto shuffles around the standard template. Instead of basil, there is shiny, sultry Tuscan (or lacinato or dinosaur) kale. And instead of pine nuts, there are salty, roasted cashews. The result is a bright green, wintry answer to a summery staple. The fusilli's curlicues catch all the sauce—but feel free to use any loopy pasta that you have in the pantry. And don't drain that pasta water! Instead, use a slotted spoon to remove the noodles. The pesto wants (needs!) that water to become a creamy, emulsified sauce. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured In: Food52 Winter Games Kick Off with Triple-Loop Noodles —The Editors

  • Serves 4 to 8
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (salted or unsalted)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup finely grated or ground Parmesan, plus more, for garnish
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • Red pepper flakes
In This Recipe
  1. Set a big pot of water over high heat. Add a few spoonfuls of kosher salt.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Combine the kale, cashews, garlic, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and well combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Transfer to a big, heatproof bowl—this is what you’ll serve in.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Cook for about 8 minutes until al dente. Before you drain, fill a mug or glass with the salty pasta water. Drain the pasta. Add to the bowl with the pesto. Toss. Progressively add as much pasta water as needed to create a creamy, smooth sauce—it will continue to stiffen as it cools, so don’t be shy here. (I used about ⅔ cup.) Season again to taste.
  4. Serve with more red pepper flakes and Parmesan on top.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in November 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Review

danielle April 3, 2018
Good for everyday. I do like the cashews in the pesto