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Ultimate Family Food: Easy Kale & Walnut Pesto

kale walnut pesto pictureIf you cook for a family and don’t have a freezer stocked with pesto, you’re doing something wrong. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but let’s look at the cold, hard facts:

1. It comes together with one zip of the food processor.

2. It’s endlessly versatile. You can use it as a pasta sauce, sandwich spread, dressing for veggies, topping on meat or fish… You get the point.

3. It can be made with a staggering array of herbs, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts and cheese. Broccoli pesto. Cauliflower pesto with hazelnuts and citrus zest. Corn, basil and parmesan pesto. Cilantro and feta pesto. What else? Or maybe I should ask what not else?!

4. It freezes well. Make a big batch and you’ve got a freezer full of quick dinner solutions. (Holiday madness sanity saver!!)

5. Everyone loves pesto. Bright and nutty, sometimes garlicky, often cheesy: how can you go wrong? It’s an exciting way to serve herbs and vegetables, and to show kids how flexible and tasty they can be.

6. Pesto is healthy. You’re talking raw olive oil, nuts, veggies and/or herbs (which are also great for us, tots included—just check out these herb health properties).

This easy Kale and Walnut Pesto packs a particularly nutritious punch.

I’ve been trying to get my one-year-old to eat more dark leafy greens, but he can’t seem to get past the texture. He won’t eat purees anymore, but even finely chopped greens are too tough for him. (I tend to lightly steam my greens.) This pesto is finally the solution. With the addition of omega-3 rich walnuts, it’s also seriously good for you. And kale, plus good olive oil, some garlic and pecorino = delicious!!!

What’s your favorite pesto?

Kale and Walnut Pesto
makes 2 cups, enough for about 2 lbs of pasta

1 bunch of kale
1 tsp olive oil, plus 1/2 c
1 c walnuts
1/2 c grated pecorino
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

1. Lightly steam the kale.

2. In the meantime, heat teaspoon of olive oil in a small pan and use to toast the walnuts, stirring frequently. The walnuts are done when they turn golden brown and are fragrant.

3. Place steamed kale, toasted walnuts, pecorino and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree as you slowly drizzle remaining 1/2 c of olive oil in a thin stream. Pesto is done when it’s pureed and creamy. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

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