Recipe: Lemon Kale Pesto Pasta

The vibrant green of the pesto and vegetables in this pasta makes it a cheerful dish for Spring. I like using Kale Walnut Pesto in this dish during the early days of Spring, because it gives it a hearty, rich flavor, rather than the lighter, summery flavor of basil. But a good store-bought basil pesto would also work well and make this a very simple meal to prepare.  To make an easy vegetarian pasta dish, just leave out the sausage. The Kale Walnut Pesto is also delicious as a dip, in a sandwich, or simply spread on warm bread.

 Lemony Kale Pesto Pasta with Spring Vegetables and Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:

1 pound Campanelle or other bite sized pasta

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

1 Tablespoon olive oil

12 ounces fully cooked chicken sausage, cut into ½ inch thick slices

½ cup kale pesto (recipe below)

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

grated zest of 1 lemon

1.     Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, adding the asparagus and peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and veggies, reserving ½ cup pasta water, and return drained food to the pot.

2.     While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the sliced sausage and cook until browned, a few minutes on each side.

3.     Add the cooked sausage, pesto, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to the drained pasta and veggies in the pot. Toss gently to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if the pesto seems too clumpy. Top with lemon zest and serve hot.

Kale Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh kale leaves, ribs removed and roughly torn or chopped

1/3 cup toasted walnuts

½ teaspoon kosher salt

juice of 1 lemon

½ cup olive oil

½ cup finely grated Parmesan

1.     Add the kale, walnuts and salt to a food processor and process for several seconds, or until finely chopped.

2.     Add the lemon juice, and olive oil to the processor and process until mixture is smooth, adding extra oil as needed to make a smooth pesto.

3.     Stir in the grated parmesan. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.