This Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto is a quick and easy meatless dinner! Make your pesto with cashews for extra creaminess. Blanching the kale also helps keep the pesto green.
For the pesto:
- 1 bunch lacinato kale (about 12 ounces), stems removed and leaves torn into large pieces
- 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Water, as needed, to thin the pesto
For the pasta:
- 1 pound whole wheat linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini.
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Blanch the kale: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
Add the kale to the boiling water and stir for 15 seconds, or until wilted and deep green. With a slotted spoon, transfer it to the bowl of ice water. (Alternatively, transfer to a colander and run it under cold water.) Reserve the cooking water in the pot.
Squeeze the kale with your hands to remove excess water.
2 Make the pesto: In a food processor, pulse the cashews and garlic a few times until finely chopped. Add the kale and Parmesan, and pulse until they are also finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
With the motor running, pour in the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper. If needed, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to bring the pesto to the desired thickness. Taste the pesto and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
3 Cook the pasta: Return the pot of water used to blanch the kale to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until al dente. (Check the package for recommended cooking time.)
Scoop out and set aside 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander.
4 Toss the pasta: Return the pasta to the empty cooking pot and toss with the lemon juice. Add 1 cup or more pesto, to taste, and toss again. If the pesto seems dry, add a little of the pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce coats the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella pieces and serve.