Friday, July 9, 2010

Basil and Kale Pesto, on pasta with crisp fried linguica and summer squash

I will add my apology to Jenean's apology, for our failure to blog recently. We've had a really busy last couple of months around here.

But now! It's still busy, but there's a lot of cooking to talk about! Because it's finally CSA time! Our fridge has been constantly stocked since June 12th with plenty of lettuce, several kinds of greens, zucchini and summer squash, a modest amount of berries (lovely little strawberries for about 3 weeks, and now blueberries), beets, and sugar snap peas which make an awesome crispy snack.

Our wonderful CSA farmer lady Genevieve Stillman always includes a newsletter in the weekly box with funny things about the farm, info about the CSA, and some recipe suggestions. She has branched out into a blog now: and it's great. In this week's newsletter there was a Kale Pesto recipe. I didn't follow it exactly but I really liked the idea (as we were about 2 weeks behind on our kale usage). I also have a modest crop of basil out on the deck (with big leaves hogging growing power from the smaller ones), so I wanted to bring the two together.

for the pesto:
1 bunch of kale, chopped (stems and all)
2 handfuls (a cup?) of basil leaves)
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup or so olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan

a pound of rotini or other piece-type pasta
2 (in my case decrepit looking) summer squash that needed using, (trimmed of bad parts and) cubed small
1 6-inch link linguica (smoky paprika-y portuguese pork sausage, perfect with kale, and a little goes a long way so it's a really cheap way to get some richness from meat without actually using very much), peeled of its casing, cut in half lengthwise and then in thin slices

I started by sauteeing the chopped kale in a little olive oil, with salt and pepper over high heat, stirring frequently.
Once it started to wilt I added about 2 tbsp water and covered it, and let it go for about 5 minutes.
Then I put the basil in the food processor, drained the kale and added it, along with the garlic and the pine nuts, and ground it up, drizzling the oil in through the top of the food processor (you could do all this in a blender too - in fact you'd get a smoother pesto that way). Once it was a pretty uniform paste, I transferred it to a bowl, and stirred in the cheese. Then I tasted it for salt (it needed some, but I didn't want to add it before the cheese, which is salty itself) and ground in some black pepper.
Then in the same pan I fried the kale in (dried out) I heated some more olive oil (2 tbsp?) really super hot, and added the cubed summer squash. I left it without touching (same as you do with mushrooms, which are also watery) for as long as I could stand it, letting the one side get super brown. Then I tossed the pan around, and let it fry a while longer, seasoned with salt and pepper, and removed to a bowl.
I put the pan back on the heat and added the linguica, which started to render out its fat, and become crispy pretty quickly.
Once it all looked browned and lovely, I added back the squash, tossed it all around together for another minute, and then turned off the heat.

Meanwhile, the pasta was cooking in generously salted water - I drained it, put about a cup of the pesto into a large bowl, added the pasta, squash and linguica, tossed it all around, and done!
Vegetarians could of course skip the linguica. If you wanted to make it vegan from that point, the pesto actually tasted great pre-cheese - you could just up the nuts to a cup, if you wanted (also, other types of nuts are worth trying - walnuts, almonds, pistachios - toast em first).


  1. This looks great! your basil looks pristine - good for you! this is perfect for all our pasta eaters, who won't realize they are eating kale.

  2. It's true! It really just tasted almost exactly like regular pesto.

  3. This pesto is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing it. It did need some salt, as you said.

    We had so muck kale in our garden and didn't know what to do with it. So we made at least three batches of this and froze it - now it will keep us thinking of summer on cold Minnesota winter nights.