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Kale pesto with linguini

Updated: Mar 22

Pesto if made well is lovely. There is a flood of commercial varieties on the shelves in India and the few that I have tried are greasy and highly processed, frankly quite inedible for the snob in me. To me, pesto is light, delicate, beautiful, bright-coloured and delicious, and so I have taken to making quite a few varieties recently.

Here is a lovely and healthy variation using super-healthy kale sourced from Cullinariaum in Ooty. These beauties were fresh and lovely, so I made this pesto to get the maximum flavour when I received them.

The pesto works wonders with the pasta. The light flavours saturate the pasta and unfold on your palate. There is no grease or oiliness, just the flavours of the herbs and greens. I avoided putting pine nuts into this version so as not to mask the flavour of the kale, but you may want to do so if you choose. This is a lovely main course for a light meal or as a side, especially with meats.

Like every recipe I have cooked from Diana Henry, this one is delicious. Subtle flavours dominate this meal, and the spices are balanced. This was my first Diana Henry cookbook, and after making a couple of recipes from it, I was addicted to her cooking. The recipes include flavours and cuisines from around the world, and her writing style is fun and easy. Like this recipe, the dishes step away from the ordinary and are just amazing.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


1/2 lb linguini, whole-wheat preferred


1/2 teaspoon salt,

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

3 cups kale, stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup parsley, stemmed and diced

1 anchovy with some oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Red pepper flakes (optional)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese + additional shavings

Heat a large pot with water, salt, and olive oil till it boils. Add the linguini and cook as per the instructions on the package minus 1 minute for al dante. Drain and cool under running water. Set aside and toss in a teaspoon of olive oil so the pasta does not stick to itself.

Heat another pot with 2 cups of water and blanch the kale for 3 minutes. Depending on the variety, the kale needs to be bright green or red. Do not overcook; the kale will turn drab and unappetizing. Drain the kale, reserving the cooking liquids, and cool it under running cold water to stop the cooking process.

Add the kale, olive oil, parsley, anchovy, garlic, and Parmesan cheese to a small blender and pulse to a rough paste with bits. Add the pepper flakes, if using, and mix in. Taste and adjust salt and cheese. You are looking for a purèe that is lovely and chunky with some salt and kale notes that shine.

To serve, add the cooked pasta to a wide frying pan with a teaspoon of oil and warm it up. Add the pesto and cook for 1/2 a minute to warm it up. Do not cook the pesto; it will leak oil and turn completely yucky. Serve immediately with a shaving of Parmesan on top.

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