July 18, 2018 10:50:58 AM
Although most people think of pesto as an Italian sauce made with herbs (most famously, basil), many ingredients can be ably featured in a pesto. One of note is kale -- leafy and deep green, with an earthy, slightly bitter flavor.
Pine nuts are too mild a match for kale, so we opt for more assertively flavored sunflower seeds instead. We also add a handful of basil to the mix to brighten and freshen the earthy pesto.
Toasting the garlic cloves gives them a nutty sweetness. An optional teaspoon of red pepper flakes provides some welcome heat. The hearty kale leaves make a thick pesto, which we thin out by stirring in several tablespoons of pasta cooking water before serving.
PASTA WITH KALE AND SUNFLOWER SEED PESTO
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 ounces kale, stemmed and chopped (2 cups)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (¾ cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fusilli
Nutrition information per serving: 554 calories; 250 calories from fat; 28 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 6 mg cholesterol; 530 mg sodium; 62 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 16 g protein.