Kale may have earned its fifteen minutes of fame for being a so-called “superfood,” but that doesn’t mean it’s earned a fond place in your kid’s heart.
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A classic basil pesto is made with—you guessed it—basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, aged cheese (traditionally a combination of Parmesan and pecorino), and olive oil.
Our version is mostly the same except for the addition of kale, which gives it a nutritional boost—in fact, raw kale is one of the most nutrient-dense veggies on the planet.
Kale’s dark leaves also give the pesto an extra-vibrant green color. And because raw kale tastes pretty mild, it doesn’t change the pesto’s flavor. The key is to use equal parts basil and kale leaves to create the perfect balance: In our recipe, we use about one cup of each.
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Kale is easy for kids to prep, too; just hold the end of the stem in one hand, pinch your thumb and index finger of the other hand on either side of the stem, slide your hand down the length of the stem to strip the leaves away, and tear the leaves into small pieces until you get about 1 cup. Process the kale and basil with the other ingredients in a food processor, and your easy-peasy pesto is done.
Pesto has tons of uses in the kitchen. You can spread it on pizza, stuff it into chicken breasts, and even add it to grilled cheese. And of course, you can always put it into pasta—that’s how we use it in Kids Can Cook Anything! Stir it into cooked penne with some extra pasta water and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got a meal the whole family will love. Take it from an ATK Kids recipe tester:
“I was surprised that I liked it!” said Kyle, age 11. “I don’t like kale but this tasted really good.”
And if it’s good enough for Kyle, chances are your young chef will like it too.
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