Don't Toss Leftover Kale Stems, Add Them To Your Pesto Instead

With its immense versatility, kale isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The hardy greens are easy to sneak into smoothies, serve as a base for salads, or are sauteed or roasted to be eaten alone. While the leaves are easy to prepare, kale stems prove to be a little trickier. Still, they're completely edible. Rather than tossing them, add kale stems to your pesto.

Kale's ability to bring great flavor to any dish isn't just limited to the leaves alone. Stems have the same strong, herbaceous taste to give to whatever it's added to. Use them to bulk up your favorite pesto for more flavor while curbing your food waste. 

Admittedly, kale can be on the bitter side, but a quick blanch is all it needs. The technique softens its bitter bite while making the tough texture much easier to chew or blend. After boiling the kale stems in salted water for about four or five minutes, let them rest in an ice bath for the same amount of time. From there, the kale stems are ready to add an earthy undertone to any pesto of your choosing. 

Give these pesto recipes an earthy touch with kale stems

Kale stems are the perfect ingredient for grounding five-minute almond mint pesto. The hardy vegetable infuses the light flavors with a deep richness that makes it the perfect sauce for a pasta salad. Add blanched kale stems to a food processor along with parmesan, mint, slivered almonds, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and some spinach. Once it's smooth, toss it with penne pasta, roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese, arugula, and pine nuts.

The earthy kale stems are also great for warm pasta dishes. Pulse it with pumpkin seeds in the food processor for an earthy, sweet pesto sauce. Our easy pumpkin seed pesto contains toasted pumpkin seeds, an anchovy filet for a burst of savory flavor, pumpkin oil, soffritto, chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Fold the sauce into a pot of freshly cooked rigatoni for an aromatic, cozy dinner.

If you're looking to make something besides pasta with your kale stems, try this earthy spread on a grilled pesto mozzarella sandwich. Kale stems, basil, pecorino romano cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, and olive oil come together to enhance the fresh tomatoes, salty mozzarella, and buttery bread.

Whichever way you decide to incorporate this herbaceous sauce, you won't be disappointed.