Kale and Pistachio Pesto


In general, I need to work at least eight hours a day. In the winter, when it snows and I want to go skiing, sometimes it is hard to cram in a full day’s work and pull together a nice dinner as well. And, lets face it, after a backcountry hike or a bunch of turns at the village, you want to eat a good meal.

So on a day when you don’t have time to go to the grocery store in addition to work and skiing, it is important to have a few staples in your house that are ready to go for dinner. Things I like to have my pantry stocked with include (but aren’t limited too): nuts of all kinds, pasta, salad makings and cheese. Pretty much, if you have these things, a well-stocked pantry of spices and oils, you can pull together a decent, or sometimes delicious, dinner.

So on a recent such day, I started by hiking the pass. After a shower, I was ready to work by about 11 a.m. So, at 7 p.m., when I felt it was ok to quit, I wandered over to the refrigerator. My husband, mind you, was hungry. After a quick inventory I came up with a plan. I had kale, which I love, but it was a little wilted. I always have pasta, which I buy in bulk at Costco. So after discovering pistachios in my freezer (freezing them keeps them from getting soggy of soft) I decided to make a play on pesto.

While traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, you can make many amazing variations of pesto substituting different greens and nuts. Parmesan cheese, olive oil and garlic should always be included in any good pesto. (Some recipes call for leaving the cheese out, but I am not a fan of these varieties if you plan to use them with pasta.)

Back to our après ski dinner. Basically, it was delicious. I made a simple salad and boiled some pasta. I took about a cup of the kale pistachio pesto and mixed it with a bit of the pasta water (1/4 cup) and warm pasta. Then I threw in cubed fresh mozzarella so it would have some substance. I never mind, and actually often prefer, a vegetarian meal, but if you really want meat and have it on hand, feel free to mix in some chicken or turkey into the pasta and pesto. You could also throw in mixed vegetables if you have them and want to. But the simple variation was also really nice. It was flavorful but also unique and a little unexpected.

Despite my slightly late start, I had dinner done in 30 minutes so we were eating by about 7:30 p.m.. All and all, I got it all done: skied, worked and made dinner. So, there is proof – you can do it all!


Kale and Pistachio Pesto


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • ¼ -½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Special equipment needed: food processor


  • Place the two cloves of garlic into the food processor first. Turn it on and process until the garlic is cut into small pieces.You may need to stop it once or twice and push the garlic down the sides into the bottom of the processor.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and process again until it is crumbled into small pieces.
  • Add the nuts and repeat the process.
  • Add the kale, salt and pepper and process again while slowly drizzling in enough olive oil to bind the pesto and create a slightly wet sauce.

About Author

Writer. Cook. Hockey player. Skier. Snowboarder. Mountain biker. Mother of two great danes. Wife. Marketing expert. And, most fulfilling, Co-editor of Dishing!

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