September 12, 2011

Kale and Edamame Pesto - An Original Creation

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One of the great thing about summer is the CSA. For those of you who don't know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. At the beginning of the summer you pay for the whole summer's worth of vegetables and then the farm can go ahead and produce them, bringing you tons of fresh veggies from a local farm every week.

This sounds too good to be true!
We didn't sign up for a CSA this summer because we wanted to go to more farmer's markets and choose our own stuff, but last week we decided to buy a share from someone who wasn't able to pick theirs up that week, since we were dying to get our hands on a good supply of end of summer tomatoes (more on those in a later post).

In addition to the massive amount of tomatoes, we got a head of kale and a pound of edamame. At first, this seemed annoying, at best. Kale is gross, and edamame is at best an appetizer - this was one of the reasons why we didn't sign up for the CSA this year, sometimes you end up with seemingly useless vegetables.

Kale and edamame. 
But necessity is the mother of invention, and after a quick brainstorm, we decided to try turning these veggies into a pesto. Online searches had some results for kale pesto, and some results for pestos where the edamame replaces the nut, but we weren't able to find any results for kale and edamame pesto. So we believe this is a first. Turns out, this is actually quite good, healthier than a normal peso, and super easy to make. So hopefully this pesto catches on, and the next time you're faced with a head of kale and find yourself wishing that kale had never been harvested, you'll have a solution!

Making the Pesto

Removing the kale from its stem

To star, you'll need to prepare the veggies. This means removing the kale from the stems so that it's not so bitter, and blanching the kale and edamame. Bring two pots of water to a boil and drop in the edamame for about 3 - 5 minutes, until they float to the top. The kale can stay in the water for about 5 minutes.

Blanching the edamame

Once the edamame has cooked, drain them and run them under cool water so they're easier to handle. Then, start to remove the edamame from their shell. Pull the shell off and take out the bean, placing the bean right into the food processor.

Rinsed kale and blanched edamame

After the kale has been in the water for about 5 minutes, drain that as well, and then use a paper towel to press down on it and remove the excess water. Let it drain for a few minutes while you remove the shells from the edamame, so that as much of the excess water is removed as possible.

Adding the edamame and cheese to the food processor

Add the kale into the food processor and then add in 1 - 2 cloves of garlic, depending on how garlicky you want it. We went with two medium cloves. Grate in a quarter cup of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a quarter cup of fresh Pecorino Romano cheese. Add a touch of salt and pepper, and finish off with the juice of half a lemon.

The lemon provides some brightness and acidity to the kale

Begin to pulse the food processor, and as it is going add in the olive oil. Since you're using edamame, you won't need as much olive oil as a traditional pesto to get everything to emulsify, a quarter cup at most. Add in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, and once the pesto has gotten to the consistency that you like it, stop pulsing and give it a taste.

Juicing the lemon into the kale and edamame
Adjust the flavors with salt, pepper, and extra lemon juice if it needs it, and once it's where you want it, the kale and edamame pesto is complete!

The completed kale and edamame pesto

You can serve this in a lot of different ways - on bruschetta, tossed with shrimp, or simply over pasta, which is what we did. We used a whole wheat spaghetti to get a slightly nuttier flavor to enhance the overall experience.

Cook the pasta to one minute shy of the package directions in salted water. Once it's done, add it to a sauce pan with the kale and edamame pesto and toss together. Add in a ladle of pasta water and cook over high heat, tossing continuously, until the spaghetti is coated and a slight sauce forms. Add more pasta water if necessary.

Kale and edamame pesto tossed with whole wheat spaghetti

Top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and enjoy!

Kale and edamame pesto over pasta, topped with grated cheese

The Results
Our initial displeasure about receiving kale was clearly misplaced. This creation was fantastic. The kale provides a slight bitterness which is offset nicely by the cheese and olive oil, and the edamame gives it a wonderful consistency and underlying flavor that binds everything together.

This was great over pasta, and we can only begin to imagine other uses for this. Next time we end up with kale in our grocery bag, we might try this tossed with shrimp or scallops, or simply use this as a spread served with cheese.

So there you have it - the first ever kale and edamame pesto on the internet. Spread the word about this recipe!

And lastly, tell us in the comments - how else should we be using kale?

Click through for the full ingredient list! 

Kale and Edamame Pesto

Written by:

A new way to use kale and edamame, bringing them together into a healthy and delicious pesto

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 2 - 4)

1/2 lb pasta
1 lb edamame in their shells
1 head kale
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pecorino romano
1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Wow...great job! This looks delicious and I will have to put my distaste for kale aside and give it try sometime!

  2. Kale is the best. Great lookin' recipe! I love it wilted down in a skillet. Recipe:

    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Portuguese kale potato chorizo soup, a.k.a. caldo verde, is one of my favorite uses of kale.

  4. Thanks all!

    @Jess - that caldo verde looks excellent, we'll have to try that. @Anna - thanks! nice photos

  5. This looks amazing and I can't wait to make it. I use Kale often when I'm in the mood for chips - crispy kale is a much more delicious substitute (

  6. I love kale, but have never tried it in pesto like this. What a great change from the usual basil.

  7. Thanks! Yep Food Gal - it's a bit more bitter than basil, so the lemon is important, but it gives it a great complex taste.

    Daniel - thanks for the recipe for the kale chips! I've always wanted to make those but am always struggling to find a reliable recipe.


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