Stop playing! Make this baby kale pesto and put it on just about everything you like to grub on.
My meal prep is as basic and simple as it gets. I make a few different sauces every Sunday such as this baby kale pesto or my favorite roasted red pepper sauce which you can find here. I decide on my four or five main dish items and sides I plan to make which are typically easy prep, easy cook no fuss recipes for pasta, chicken, fish, greens of some sort and grains like rice, couscous, etc. I simply lace them with one of the mostly vegan sauces I’ve prepared earlier. Bam complete meals come together and are done just like that! Talk about a time saver, listen up.
Kale Pesto Recipe Musical Inspiration
Though I meal prep on Sundays, I like for my Sundays to be laid back easy days spent mostly outdoors. So as mentioned before my meal prep is simple and basic and I bang through it with speed, agility, and intensity. I’m trying to get that shit done, so I can enjoy my day. Believe me, I spend enough time in the kitchen all the other days. Electronica, hard core rock, and banging hip hop rules the day! Run The Jewelz featuring one of my favorite emcees Killer Mike offer many tracks that fit the bill. I dialed up “Get It” to dash madly through my weekly sauces this week.
Kale Pesto Recipe Options
Traditionally pesto is just basil, garlic, pine nuts, and oil. Simple ingredients, great taste, and can be used on pastas, salads, and meat proteins. I have a pretty liberal view of pesto and just go with this basic formula for what I think makes a good pesto; it’s greens + herbs + nuts + garlic + oil. This recipe calls for baby kale, but that’s only because that’s what I had on hand. Swish chard, spinach, beet greens, any kale varietal, etc. all work and can be plugged into the formula. Same goes for nuts; I chose pepitos but pine nuts (super pricey!) or walnuts are easy plug-ins.
Kale Pesto Flavor Profile
My herb garden is heavily skewed towards basil, parsley, and cilantro. So I used them all in this recipe, as I really like that fresh herbal flavor in my pesto. Having the additional parsley and cilantro vs. only basil adds a lighter note which I prefer. Obviously if heather is your taste use more basil. Garlic tends to be that ingredient that really can have a dramatic impact on the taste profile. Garlic as an ingredient helps to balance things out in a pesto, but if you want you can easily make it the dominant flavor in your pesto. A little garlic goes a long way, so for a more garlicky pesto bump up the number of cloves to at least three. I personally am a garlic dude, but understand it’s not for everybody.
Olive oil matters in pesto! Don’t skimp on the good stuff and I’m not talking price necessarily but more so flavor. For example, I keep two types on hand – one basic bland one for everyday stove top cooking and then another I use as an ingredient in recipes for vinaigrettes, pesto, etc. where the flavor is critical to the dish. You don’t have to break the bank, but just choose one that has a flavor you like.
Kale Pesto Cooking/Meal Prep Tips
- Cleanliness is everything! Unless you prefer a dirt grainy mouthfeel in your pesto, take the time and clean the greens and herbs well before blending. Use a good salad spinner to dry them or go old school and just use paper towels
- Toast the nuts first in a small skillet over low heat first regardless of what types you use. Be careful not to burn them.
- Chop up your ingredients well, especially if you’re using larger oily nuts which tend to release their oils when processed creating a more pasty consistency in your pesto.
- I excluded parmesan cheese which is a common pesto ingredient as I wanted to keep this vegan. If you decide to include cheese just be sure to grate the cheese into the pesto after the blending process.
- Make more pesto than you need. It freezes just fine so you can have on hand for later dishes. I have these large rubber ice cube trays commonly used for chilling cocktails. If using in leftovers remember pesto doesn’t heat well (it will brown) so let it thaw and come to room temperature then heat the food you plan to use with it if necessary.
- For a nut free option use hemp seeds which also have many important health benefits including being a great source of plant-based protein. For more information on hemp seed health benefits click here.
Kale Pesto Food Pairings
- Though pesto goes great with pasta it is not just for pasta.
- It works great as a spread/dressing for sandwiches
- Mix-in for grains or bean based salads
- Dip for raw crunchy vegetables in place of less healthy ranch or blue cheese dressings
- Topping for boiled/roasted vegetables like potatoes, beets, etc.
- Drizzle on pizzas or scrambled eggs
- Spread for crackers
- Sauce for fish, shrimp, chicken, or flank steak
Recommended Equipment For Making Pesto
Dope beats, fresh eats, best life. Try this easy to make, crazy versatile baby kale pesto recipe!
Baby Kale Pesto w/ Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 cups pre-packaged baby kale and spinach mix
- 1 cup mix of fresh basil parsley, and cilantro
- 1/4 cup pepitas pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 1 whole lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese optional
- In a food processor, add the garlic, baby kale leaves, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the oil.
Add the pepitas and process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust by adding more lemon, salt or pepper.
Toast the nuts first in a small skillet over low heat first regardless of what types you use. Be careful not to burn them.
Chop up your ingredients well, especially if you’re using larger oily nuts which tend to release their oils when processed creating a more pasty consistency in your pesto.