We love traditional pesto and we love making it the true Italian way - chopping all of the ingredients by hand or blending with a mortar and pestle - but sometimes throwing everything in a food processor is… well, easier. Especially if you have hangry people staring you down. Plus, this isn’t a traditional pesto so we’re breaking a few rules and we promise it’s worth it. Hearty kale gets blanched quickly to tenderize the leaves and a dollop of plain yogurt adds extra creaminess to this multipurpose sauce. There’s so much more you can do with pesto besides tossing it with pasta - drag a toasty baguette through it, smear it on some grilled chicken or steak, spoon it on your favorite veggies or stir it into risotto.
1 bunch Tuscan kale (lacinato kale), stems removed
½ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup parsley leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
½ cup walnuts, toasted
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, plus more for garnish
¼ cup plain yogurt
8 oz bucatini (or your favorite pasta)
For the Pesto:
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Place the kale leaves in the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, then place the kale on a kitchen towel to dry.
To the bowl of a food processor or blender, add the garlic, parsley, parmesan, toasted walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add in the kale and yogurt and pulse a few more times.
With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream and pulse to a coarse purée. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days. Pesto yields approximately 1 ½ cups.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 8 oz of pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Drain pasta and return to pot. Toss with ½ to ¾ cup pesto and the reserved pasta water.
Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve warm.