This was my first time making kale pesto. It will not be my last. In fact, I think I might be a life long convert. I can hardly imagine going back to plain old basil pesto ever again. The earthly flavor of the kale takes this herby spread to a whole new level. It’s like pesto and a zesty kale salad all rolled into one. Oh, and guess what? I mixed things up a bit by leaving out the parmesan and switching the pine nuts for almonds. I know…we’re getting crazy over here. But it worked. It worked perfectly. I didn’t miss the parmesan at all and the almonds gave it a more nutty than piney flavor- if that makes any sense. Anyway, kale pesto is where it’s at from now on as far as I am concerned. Good thing because I went all out and made a huge double batch, most of which is now occupying one corner of our freezer. Kale pesto for life!
There are a million things I could have eaten this amazing kale pesto with. It would be wonderful as a sandwich spread or pizza topping, drizzled over hot noodles, slathered on grilled chicken or fish, combined with rice and stuffed inside a red pepper…the possibilities go on and on. In the end I decided to keep it simple though and combined the pesto with some juicy ripe heirloom tomatoes and tiny little balls of fresh mozzarella atop a salad of mixed greens. Perfect, easy, summer in a bowl.
Caprese Salad + Kale Pesto
Serves: 4-6 + makes extra pesto
adapted from Arugula Caprese Salad with Kale Pesto by Sprouted Kitchen
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup kale, roughly chopped
1/2 cup almonds
2 garlic cloves
zest + juice of 1 lemon
dash of salt & pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups mixed greens
8 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls*
1 pound tomatos
* Vegan option: I made this dish for our friends who don’t eat dairy. I kept the mozzarella balls to the side and they brought along a vegan Moxarella cheese made out of cashews. I tried it and was surprised by just how good it was.
1. Pulse the almonds and garlic in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the basil, kale, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Pulse to combine then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse a few more times until the consistency is how you like it. Add a bit of water or more lemon juice for a thinner pesto.
2. Slice the tomatoes into bite size pieces and the mozzarella balls in half. Toss with a few generous spoonfuls of pesto. Let sit at room temperature for up to an hour or covered in the fridge for several hours to meld the flavors together.
3. Serve the tomato, mozzarella and pesto mixture over mixed greens.