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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More Inspiration from 50 Best Plants on the Planet

Double Kale Pesto Pasta

In case you haven't heard, Kale is one of Melissa's "The 50 Best Plants on the Planet".  Off the chart amounts of vitamin K, and a great source of vitamins A and C, Kale is super high in fiber and the good amounts of B vitamins in Kale help in balancing blood sugar. Even if you don't quite understand what this means, trust me it's a good thing.

Pixie Tangerine & Kale Salad
Now if you're thinking Kale just has a great personality, think again. Braised or steamed Kale is delicious on its own as a side, or as a flavorful, healthful addition to stews, soups, and sautes. You can roast torn pieces of Kale drizzled with a little oil and smoked sea salt for tasty, crunchy "chips". Appearing in restaurants everywhere, one of the most popular presentations of this green, leafy, nutritional powerhouse is in a fresh salad, where the Kale is cut, dressed, and massaged into tender submission. Embellishments are only limited by your imagination, but do consider some type of citrus, like blood oranges from Melissa's.

When our Los Angeles Food Blogger group recently got together to celebrate all things Kale, aka Kale-a-palooza, I brought Double Kale Pesto Pasta Salad. The pesto featured 2 types of green kale, plus arugula and cilantro, pepitas instead of pine nuts, and white miso paste instead of Parmesan cheese (not missed whatsoever). Representatives from Cut 'n Clean were also there to educate us all about Kale and other leafy greens, including how Kale turns a margarita a vivid and delicious green. Thanks for being there!

Greens, Beans, Squash & Veggie Sausage
Going back to The 50 Best Plants on the Planet, I recently made a plant-based version of Cathy Thomas' Kale and Cannellini Beans with Crumbled Sausage (page 185), substituting Trader Joe's Sausage-less Sausage, adding roasted butternut squash, and Cut 'n Clean's Euro Greens (which includes kale plus Swiss chard, mustard, and turnip greens). Delish!

By the way, although many recipes call for the leafy part only, it's in the Kale stems where all the beneficial potassium is, so use these in your soup and stew recipes for added nutrition, fiber and texture.

Double Kale Pesto Pasta
pesto ingredients:
1 cup curly leaved kale
1 cup plain leaved kale
1 cup arugula
1 cup cilantro                                                    
vegetable oil
1/2 cup pepitas
3 Tbsp. white miso paste
splash of fresh lime juice
salt & pepper

Process the first 4 ingredients in a blender with enough vegetable oil to make a puree.
Add the miso paste and puree again.
Add the pepitas and  lime juice and puree again.
Add salt & pepper to taste.   Cover and set aside.

1 pkg. (12-16 oz.) whole wheat penne pasta (or any pasta you like)
1 pkg. broccoli slaw
1 green bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
3 green onions, cut into julienne strips
2 pkgs. Melissa's Hawaiian-style Tofu, cut into julienne strips
1/2 cup pepitas
3/4 cup fresh cilantro

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Rinse, drain, and cool to room temperature.
Take half the pesto mixture and blend with the pasta.
Add the vegetables, tofu, and pepitas to the pasta and toss to combine.
Add additional pesto to coat pasta mixture to your liking.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.  

Makes enough to serve a small army or a group of food bloggers.


  1. What a treat to find your delightful post! So full of delicious ideas. I love it that you turned kale into pesto, and used miso paste instead of cheese. It sounds so delicious with the tofu and crunchy veg julienne, and looks beautiful with the bouquet of cilantro on top. Do you have a rough estimate of the amount of vegetable oil?
    Greens, Beans, Squash etc looks so yummy with that luscious roasted butternut squash.

    Bravo for making this so much fun to read, especially "Even if you don't quite understand what this means, trust me it's a good thing."
    and "Makes enough to serve a small army or a group of food bloggers."

    1. Faye, you are so kind with your comments, as always. I'm going to guess about close to 1/2 cup of oil, because 4 cups of greens require quite a bit to create the right consistency - at least they do in my low power blender. Maybe it's time for a Vitamix. I just cooked some brown rice and added in some of the same pesto and it was really tasty. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks, Nancy. I guess 1/2 cup isn't too much, since this makes enough for a small army!
    In the pesto, I wonder whether the flavor of any particular kind of greens dominated?
    Sounds great adding your pesto to brown rice.

    1. If you need to use less oil then maybe try a little veggie stock, plus some oil. The main objective is to purée the mixture. As far as how it tastes, the different greens balance really well and I'd describe the flavor as fresh & herbaceous. I hope you'll make your own greens pesto soon!

  3. Faye,
    It was definitely herbaceous! Vegetal and vibrant! Delightful and delicious!

    1. Thanks Dorothy! The color is fantastic too and it stays a vivid green, not like conventional basil pesto.

    2. Thanks, Dorothy. Looking forward to your photo of the dish as served at the meeting.

      Nancy, great to know that the color stays vivid green. Also, I'm not really worried about the oil since it makes a lot of servings but your idea of trying a little veggie stock sounds very good. Do you like the idea of using olive oil?

    3. I chose vegetable oil for a more neutral flavor to let the greens shine.

  4. I am loving 50 Best Plants on the Planet! It's so inspiring!

  5. Valentina, it's as if we're enjoying the book together!