Kale Pesto recipe from New School Cuisine

For October’s Farm to School Month, our Executive Chef David Hugo prepared Kale Pesto for a taste test at Burlington’s Sustainability Academy. He used a recipe from New School Cuisine, the first-of-its-kind cookbook for and by school chefs that we co-authored through our VT FEED partnership with NOFA-VT, and with the School Nutrition Association of Vermont.  

It’s an amazing cookbook. Every school should have one. In fact, every school in Vermont does. It was part of the distribution plan. And you can download it for free.

But the recipe serves 64 – more people than are usually at my table! (All the cookbook recipes serve 50-100, which, of course,  makes sense for schools).

So when people asked for the recipe after I posted the taste test on our Facebook page, I decided to scale it down for 16 people – a quarter the amount – and then adjust the recipe if needed. That would make the math easy, and leave enough for leftovers. Plus, you can freeze pesto. 

So here’s the recipe serving 16. And here’s the story:

First off, there are lots of varieties of kale. I used what my husband had bought: curly kale.  (I wish I could say it came from my garden, but I didn’t grow kale this year.) Chef David used Dinosaur (Lasinato) kale, which has a slightly nuttier, sweeter flavor. 

The ingredients are simple and the chopping and measuring easy. I am often accused of over-doing garlic, because… well… garlic!, so I made a point of sticking to the 3/4 tsp.  In short order, I had kale pesto.

I also happened to have five young girls in my house the day I made it. They happily agreed to taste test it. (“We get to be in a blog!”)   I should note that neither kale nor pesto are foreign to this troop. They’re pretty seasoned eaters.

They ate it over whole wheat pasta, and here’s what I heard: “Too much salt.” “I want more cheese in it.” “It needs more garlic.” And, unanimously, “Can I have some more?”

So below is the slightly adjusted recipe (same as the one at link above), with just a titch more Parmesan, a titch more garlic (yay!), and a hint less salt.

Try a taste test of your own for Farm to School Month – or anytime. And get your kids or students involved in making it.  Whether you’re in a cafeteria or at the kitchen table, knowing your food is part of what Shelburne Farms is all about.

Kale Pesto

Adapted from NEW SCHOOL CUISINE, by VT FEED (a project of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT) and the School Nutrition Association of Vermont

Servings: 16
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon

½ lb       Kale (a packed quart)
½ c         Olive oil
¼ c         Grated Parmesan cheese
1½ tsp   Lemon juice
¾ tsp     Chopped garlic
½ tsp     Kosher salt
dash      Ground black pepper

  1. Remove thick stems from kale and tear into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Fit a food processor with a steel blade and fill the food processor ½ full with kale (process the kale in two batches.)
  3. Add a drizzle of oil. Process until smooth, adding a little more oil as needed.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Repeat with the remaining kale and oil.
  6. To this second batch, add cheese, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and process. 
  7. Add this batch to the bowl and stir well to blend flavors.

We also share scaled-down recipes from New School Cuisine in Vermont FEED’s seasonal newsletters.  Sign up on the Vermont FEED homepage.

Posted by Holly Brough

October 19, 2015


great recipe.

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