In traditional basil pesto, you’ll usually see pine nuts used. Instead of pine nuts, we love using almonds with the kale. If you don’t have almonds on hand, walnuts, pecans or even peanuts would be great.
1 large bunch of kale, rinsed with stems and ribs removed
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 pound pasta, any shape
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale and cook 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.
Meanwhile, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, until fragrant, browned, and not burned.
Add the kale, almonds, garlic, and the red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times so everything is chopped small. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Once all the olive oil has been added, check the consistency of the pesto — we like it to have some texture. If you prefer it smoother, pulse a few more times.
Transfer pesto to a bowl then stir in cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store for later.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is tender but not mushy. Toss with the pesto, thinning with a little of the hot cooking water as necessary. Serve immediately with more cheese on top.