Our parents were always telling us to eat our greens, and I guess there was some solid reasoning behind the nagging. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale, and broccoli have tons of iron and calcium, both essential minerals. On top of minerals, dark leafy greens boast high levels of fiber which is great for the gut and supporting your liver.
This pesto may be unlike any you've ever made or bought, but trust me, it's absolutely worth the weirdness and effort. Pesto can be made with any kind of nut and green, but traditionally it's made from pine nuts, basil, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Keep the parmesan if you like it, I like to omit it to let my greens truly shine. Otherwise, keep the basic recipe and substitute whatever nuts and greens you happen to have lying around.
If you aren't a fan of regular pasta, try whole wheat, quinoa-based pasta, rice-based pasta, or just opt for brown rice instead. Whatever you do, it'll be delicious because of the greens!
Green on Green Pesto Pasta
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes.
Ingredients for a full jar of pesto (so you can keep eating it for weeks!):
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 4 cups leafy greens (kale, basil, arugula, parsley, cilantro, spinach, even broccoli stems work)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 - 3 cloves garlic (depending on your liking for garlic)
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
Ingredients for about 4 servings of pasta (so you have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch or dinner):
- 2 cups dry pasta (or rice)
- 2 cups broccoli, chopped
- 2 cups leafy green (kale, spinach, collard), chopped into approximately 1/2 inch wide ribbons
- 1 cup parsley or cilantro (for garnish/fun)
- optional: additional greens, zucchini slices, any other green veggies you like
- some cooking oil
Directions for pesto:
- In a blender or food processor, add olive oil, garlic, greens, nuts, lemon juice, salt & pepper in that order. Blitz on high or until your desired consistency is reached. You will probably need to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice.
- Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Directions for pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little bit of salt & olive oil.
- In a large pan or skillet, add a bit of cooking oil, heat, add broccoli, toss. Allow broccoli to cook, tossing occasionally, until some bits are seared brown and the rest is soft enough to poke through with a fork, but should still retain some bite.
- Cook any other green veggies you want to add in order according to how fast they cook (broccoli taking longer than greens, zucchini taking about the same amount of time as broccoli).
- Add chopped greens to the pan. Add a sprinkle of salt while they steam themselves. Stir leaves in with the rest of the veggies in the pan only when they've begun to wilt and shrink a bit.
- Remove veggies from heat. Cook pasta according to the package in water that should now have boiled. After it is cooked through, drain in a colander.
- Put cooked pasta back in it's pot, with the stove on as low as it can go. Add two large dollops of pesto to the pasta and mix in with a wooden spoon. Add more pesto as desired.
- In a large bowl, toss pesto-coated pasta and green veggies together and enjoy.