fusilli with garlicky kale pesto and pesto butter

fusilli with garlicky kale pesto and pesto butter

fusilli with garlicky kale pesto and churn pesto butter

This recipe, from Chef Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene's in Portland, inspired me. It's an extremely satisfying pasta dish, while also providing the bonus of a hearty serving of kale.

In my version, I added parmesan, olive oil, and almonds into the pesto in the food processor - basically the same process as a normal pesto with almonds, but with kale instead of basil. And of course, I added Churn Pesto butter at the end.

What you'll need:

  • Tuscan Kale (2 lbs)
  • 3 oz Churn Pesto butter
  • Pasta (fusilli, or your choice, 1 lb)
  • Parmesan Reggiano (1 cup)
  • Pecorino Romano (1 cup)
  • Extra Virgin olive oil (1 cup)
  • Peeled Garlic (5 cloves)
  • Almonds (roasted, about 15)
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Basil (chopped, 1/2 cup)


  • Food Processor
  • Spatula
  • Cheese grater
  • Large pot for cooking pasta



  1. Fill up your large pot with water, and salt it to the point where it almost tastes like ocean water. Turn the heat on high, and bring to a boil.
  2. Have your kale ready to go into the pot. Peel your garlic cloves.
  3. Once boiling, add in kale to blanch. Keep in the pot for 3 minutes.blanched kale with churn pesto butter
  4. Pull leaves out, place in food processor with salt, pepper, garlic, almonds, and squeezed lemon juice. *If you don't like the sharpness of raw garlic in your pesto, you can sauté it in a small pan with olive oil prior to adding into the food processor.
  5. Bring your water back to a boil, and add in pasta. *Reserve 2 cups of pasta water in a bowl, place aside. This will help to thicken and smooth out the dish at the end.
  6. Pulse mixture together in the food processor. Let go for a few minutes until you get a consistency like this:kale in food processor with churn pesto butter
  7. Put the top back on your food processor, and while pulsing, slowly add in your olive oil to emulsify into the pesto. This will thicken and smooth out the mixture.
  8. At the very end, add in half of your parmesan reggiano and pecorino, and pulse for 10 seconds to incorporate together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Your pesto should look like this:kale pesto with churn pesto butter
  9. When pasta is done (cook it al dente), pour into a strainer and reserve.
  10. Pour kale pesto mixture and 3 oz of Churn Pesto butter into your pot, and turn heat to medium. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  11. Pour your pasta back into the pot with the kale pesto and butter mixture, and stir with your spatula to incorporate. Pour in 1 cup of your reserved pasta water, and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan reggiano and 1/2 cup of pecorino, and stir (this will help to bring everything together). Add in more of your reserved pasta water if needed. 
  12. Serve with more parmesan and chopped basil, and enjoy!


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