Katie's Healthy Bites: An Unusual (& Yummy!) Kale Pesto

by in Healthy Recipes, August 2, 2009

kale pesto
I had the pleasure of traveling back to my culinary school stomping grounds last weekend — Providence, Rhode Island. While there, we decided to grab a glass of wine at Al Forno restaurant and, of course, have one of their famous pizzas. With all the fresh summer herbs in season, I’ve been on a serious pesto kick lately, so I was super excited when the waiter announced that night’s “special” pizza was a kale pesto pizza! Yep, pesto made from kale. I love, love, love kale and I especially love pizza — so what could be better? Well, my expectations were blown away. The pizza, of course, was phenomenal, but the kale pesto was the star of the show. Mild and smooth, this was one of the best pestos I’ve ever had and so unique to boot.

With kale pesto on the brain, I decided to add it to the menu of my weekly cooking class. Though it was a first for me, I was pleasantly surprised that my recreation was as wonderful as its inspiration. Below is my variation, which I spread on crusty bread and top with seasonal heirloom tomatoes. This pesto is an unusual way to get some dark leafy greens into your diet. You can also pair it with pasta and roasted veggies or spread some on a small pizza. You’re going to love it!

Crostini with Kale Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes
Servings: 7 (2 pieces each)

• 1/2 to 3/4 bunch curly kale, thick stems removed (makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained)
• 1/3 cup pine nuts
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 1/4 cup chives
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoon water
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 sliced heirloom tomatoes
• 1 loaf crusty whole-grain baguette
• Cooking spray

Preheat your grill. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 30 seconds (the kale should be bright green and crisp but tender). Rinse immediately under cold water. Squeeze dry.

In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts, garlic, parsley, kale, chives, cheese and lemon juice. Add the olive oil and process to smooth. Season with salt and pepper (this recipe is calculated with 1/4 teaspoon of salt). Slice bread on an angle and mist with cooking spray. Grill for 1-2 minutes per side, until crispy. Spread each slice of grilled bread with 1/2 tablespoon of the pesto and top with a tomato slice.

Note: You will have leftover pesto. You can keep this chilled in your refrigerator for a couple days.

Nutrition Info:
Calories: 208
Protein: 6 grams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Fat: 7.7 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.35 grams
Cholesterol: 1.1 milligrams
Sodium: 390 milligrams
Fiber: 2.41 grams

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, owns HealthyBites, LLC and competed on The Next Food Network Star. Catch the season finale tonight (Sunday at 9 pm) on Food Network.

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Comments (18)

  1. Jenn Peterson says:

    This is interesting, i can't wait to try it out at out. We are going to San Diego for a week of beach house vacation! can't wait to share it with my in-laws and impress them =^.^=

  2. Sandra says:

    I wish that I had read this recipe before starting a batch of kale chips. I can't wait to try on pizza!

  3. this sounds great! I love kale too. I have a great Kale, Red Cabbage and Red Onion Salad recipe that my sister got from a nutritionist. Not sure if I can post it here but here goes: (be sure to buy organic!)
    Kale, Red Cabbage and Red Onion Salad
    Ingredients: 1 bunch Kale (washed, steamed and thinly cut
    1/2 head red cabbage (small) thinly sliced
    1 red onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped
    1 fresh lemon squeezed
    Xtra Virgin Olive oil (4-5 tbsp)
    Braggs Liquid Aminos (1-2 tbsp)
    sea salt and pepper to taste
    Combine vegetables in large bowl. Season with more or less of the above ingredients. Go according to taste. Serve this delicious colorful salad cold. NOTE: we don't usually steam the kale and it comes out fine. I like it just raw, more nutritious too. Taste's even better the next day.
    My family loves this salad, I can never make enough!

  4. Cherie says:

    Would this recipe also work with Swiss Chard? We have an over abundance in the garden this year!!

  5. Barberess says:

    I would like to know the nutritional info of 1 tablespoon of kale pesto without the bread….and tomatoes….I might want to use it other ways…Can it be posted? Sounds awesome!

  6. A single tablespoon of the kale pesto factors out to: 56 calories, 1.17 g protein, 1.2 g carb, 5.7 g fat, .85 g sat fat, 1.1 mg chol, 34 mg sodium, .41 g fiber — hope this helps and that you get to enjoy it many ways!

  7. beth says:

    looks like a good recipe – in reading thru the directions, i don't see the chives or lemon mentioned. i assume the chives go in with the kale (first step) and the lemon is added with the olive oil (second step)?

  8. katie says:

    Hi Beth…sorry for the confusion…you add the chives and the lemon with the cooked kale and parsley…we will update the post!

  9. beth says:

    excellent – it's not like you can go all that wrong with pesto, i was just curious. :) thanks!

  10. Laurie says:

    What would the iron % be in this ??

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