Texturally, leafy greens are tricky for those just starting out. They’re hard to chew, can get caught in the back of your throat, and in the case of kale, often very fibrous and tough. But with a quick turn of the food processor, leafy greens can be transformed into the most delicious mashes, purees, or sauces. Pesto is one of the easiest places to start. Whether fresh basil in the middle of summer or kale in the midst of fall, there isn’t a leafy green that can’t be turned into this tasty sauce. I’ve always loved a warm pesto with kale and walnuts or pumpkin seeds as the base. It’s great over chicken, salmon, stirred into scrambled eggs, on a sandwich or grilled cheese, or as shown here, with pasta. I made it for Audrey this past weekend and it was a hit – plus I think it was really fun for her to try and feed herself, and her monkey, and her duck…..
Pasta with Kale & Pumpkin Seed Pesto
12 months + up
Makes 4-8 servings
- 1 medium bunch kale, center ribs and stems removed
- 1 small garlic clove, optional
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
- 1 lb. your favorite kid-friendly pasta shape (gluten-free if necessary)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook until bright green, 30 seconds. Transfer the kale to a colander (reserve the cooking water); squeeze dry when cool enough to handle. Transfer kale to a food processor, add garlic if using, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and pulse until coarsely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream and process to a coarse purée. Add lemon juice and season with additional salt and pepper if you’d like.
Bring the reserved cooking water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the pesto and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water and toss to coat (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Serve the pasta sprinkled with additional Parmesan.