Kale-Basil Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- kosher salt
- 1 small bunch lacinato or Tuscan kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 pound pasta, such as orecchiette
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 8-ounce container bocconcini, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts on a tray for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Submerge the chopped kale and cook for 1 minute, until the kale is bright green. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, lift the kale out of the water and into a colander; reserve the boiling water. Run the blanched kale under cold water until cool. Wring out the excess water from the kale and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling salted water, and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooked kale, toasted walnuts, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice; pulse until a thick paste forms. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil until you reach desired consistency. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in parmesan. Season with salt, to taste.
When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the boiling water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. While the pasta is still hot, add the pesto, halved cherry tomatoes and drained bocconcini. Stir to combine. If necessary, add the reserved boiling water to loosen the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or straight from the fridge.