Bruschetta with Leafy Green Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

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Pesto + Ripe Heirloom Tomatoes + Toasted Ciabatta = Perfect  Summer Appetizer.  Warning!  May not leave room for dinner…

You could say I’m on a pesto kick.  I posted a recipe for Kale Pesto Pasta earlier this week, for Meatless Monday, (Click link for recipe or scroll down for more pesto recipes) but I obviously didn’t get enough since I was still craving those yummy flavors. Plus, earlier in the day, I had gathered bunches of baby kale and arugula along with fresh tomatoes from my garden.  Add to that the fresh ciabatta loaf that I just bought, and all the arrows lined up resulting in Kale-Arugula Pesto spread on toasted sliced ciabatta and topped with fresh heirloom tomatoes=Heaven

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I made this pesto with kale and arugula but any dark leafy greens will work in any combination.  It’s a great way to use up large quantities of greens from your garden or CSA box, especially if you are tired of salads and casseroles.  Even though it tastes pretty decadent, this little bruschetta offers a sneaky amount of nutrition; fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein, but you would never know by the taste…

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For those adventurous readers, or just lovers of pesto, check out some of the other types of pesto I have already tried by clicking on the links below.  Loved them all!

Kale Pesto Pasta

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Bow Ties with Broccoli Pesto

TIPS:  Everything can be made ahead of time (up to 2-3 hours) and set aside to be assembled at the last minute.  Or make pesto a day ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.  To store any leftover pesto, cover with a thin layer of olive oil before refrigerating to prevent it from turning brown.

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BRUSCHETTA WITH LEAFY GREEN PESTO AND HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

1 loaf ciabetta or sourdough
3-4 large tomatoes
1 cup pesto *recipe below

PESTO

3 cups roughly chopped dark leafy greens(kale, arugula, collard, mustard, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup pinenuts (walnuts, cashews or pistachios)
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated parmesan

TOPPINGS (OPTIONAL)
toasted pine nuts
sliced or chopped basil
shredded parmesan, goat cheese or feta

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  • Roughly chop the leafy greens and place them in a food processor with the pinenuts and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped.

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  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a smooth sauce. Add the salt, lemon zest and parmesan and pulse to combine.

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  • Pour the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.

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  • Chop tomatoes and place in a medium bowl, set aside.  You can always drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar, if desired, but if your tomatoes are ripe, they probably are sweet enough on their own.

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  • Slice ciabatta into one half inch slices.

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  • Place ciabatta on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Broil 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown, then turn brush with oil and broil the other side. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Spread a tablespoon of pesto on each slice of bread.

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  • Top with a spoonful of tomatoes and any desired toppings.

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  • Or set out a bruschetta bar and let your guests design their own.

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  • Serve at room temperature.

Bruschetta with Leafy Green Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20150820_201340

1 loaf ciabetta or sourdough
3-4 large tomatoes
1 cup pesto *recipe below

PESTO

3 cups roughly chopped dark leafy greens(kale, arugula, collard, mustard, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup pinenuts (walnuts, cashews or pistachios)
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated parmesan

TOPPINGS (OPTIONAL)
toasted pine nuts
sliced or chopped basil
shredded parmesan, goat cheese or feta

  • Roughly chop the leafy greens and place them in a food processor with the pinenuts and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a smooth sauce.
  • Add the salt, lemon zest and parmesan and pulse to combine.
  • Pour the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Chop tomatoes and place in a medium bowl, set aside
  • Slice ciabatta into one half inch slices.
  • Place ciabatta on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil
  • Broil 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown, then turn brush with oil and broil the other side.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Spread a tablespoon of pesto on each slice of bread.
  • Top with a spoonful of tomatoes and any desired toppings.
  • Or set out a bruschetta bar and let your guests design their own.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Meatless Monday – Kale Pesto Pasta

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Kale Pesto? Sounds too healthy doesn’t it? Wait, don’t run away screaming. I know the Kale ‘fad’ has been around for a while but bear with me.   Pesto made with a dark leafy green like kale is surprisingly delicious and so easy.  This is a NO COOK sauce that can be thrown together in about five minutes (while the pasta is cooking) and dinner is on the table easily in less than 20 minutes (including the time it takes for the water to boil).   I also used non-traditional pistachios, which are a MUFA (Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid) aka ‘good fat’ for a richer flavor.  I actually think I liked this pesto better than the traditional version – And the extra vitamins and minerals are an added bonus. This could be the way you get YOUR picky eaters to eat their greens…

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So we all know that Kale is King, since we are told ad nauseum, but why?  Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.  A single cup of raw kale contains 3 grams of protein and an alphabet list of vitamins and hard to get minerals:

  • Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene).
  • PistachiosVitamin K: 684% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 9% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 26% of the RDA.
  • Calcium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDA.
  • Then it contains 3% or more of the RDA for Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron and Phosphorus.

You get all of this and more for the low price of 33 calories and very little fat.  That, my friends, is why kale is deserving of the crown.  Furthermore, kale is actually pretty versatile.  It can be sliced into ribbons and eaten raw in salads, sauteed or added to pasta, soups and stews.  Or you can make this delicious Kale Pesto which is a sneaky smart way to get kale onto the dinner table.  BTW, Pistachios are no slouch either, adding protein, beneficial antioxidants, vitamins B and E, and a whole slew of minerals, including iron.

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I used baby kale from my garden but any dark leafy green would work well too, like spinach, mustard or collard greens.  Arugula would  made a nice, zesty pesto.  Since its uncooked, this sauce works best with young leafy greens. if you want to give it a try with larger, more mature leaves , I would recommend removing the stems and larger ribs and blanching them in boiling water for 45 seconds, then running them under cold water. Squeeze the water out with paper towels before processing to avoid a too watery sauce.

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I hate eating empty carbs so try to use whole grain pasta whenever possible.  Whole grain pastas have come a long way in the past few years, in response to demand for high quality healthful ingredients.  I like Tru Roots Ancient Grain Penne Pasta which is organic and gluten free, made with brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and corn.  It has a great texture (not gluey like so many others) and tastes like regular pasta.  It’s also available at Costco so I buy it in volume.

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TIPS: To further boost flavor and nutrition, try topping your pesto pasta with roasted butternut or summer squash which adds a creamy sweetness.  Just peel and cube squash, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees for about a half hour.  Let cool slightly and toss with pasta.  Yum!

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KALE PESTO PASTA

PASTA

3/4 lb penne, gemelli or fusilli pasta (preferably whole grain)
1 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup cooking water (reserve before draining)

PESTO

1 large bunch kale (about 3 cups roughly chopped leaves)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup pistachios (walnuts, cashews or pine nuts), toasted
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated parmesan

TOPPINGS (Optional)

Fresh basil, chopped or julienned
shredded or flaked parmesan
lemon zest

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  • Roughly chop the kale and place it in a food processor with the pistachios and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped.

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  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a smooth sauce.

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  • Add the salt, lemon zest and parmesan and pulse to combine.

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  • Pour the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.

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  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Scoop out a cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.  Add the hot pasta to the bowl with pesto and  toss well to evenly coat.  Add some of the reserved cooking water if necessary.

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  •  Serve with fresh basil and more lemon zest and parmesan, if desired.  To make ahead or store, put in a container, cover the surface with a little more olive oil and keep in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to a month.

 

Kale Pesto Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20150810_203337 

PASTA

3/4 lb penne, gemelli or fusilli pasta (preferably whole grain)
1 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup cooking water (reserve before draining)

PESTO

1 large bunch kale (about3 cups roughly chopped leaves)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup pistachios (walnut or pine nuts), toasted
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated parmesan

TOPPINGS (Optional)

Fresh basil, chopped or julienned
shredded or flaked parmesan
lemon zest

 

  • Roughly chop the kale and place it in a food processor with the pistachios and garlic. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a smooth sauce.
  • Add the salt, lemon zest and parmesan and pulse to combine.
  • Pour the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Scoop out a cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.  Add the hot pasta to the bowl with pesto and  toss well to evenly coat. Add some of the reserved cooking water if necessary.
  • Serve with fresh basil and more lemon zest and parmesan, if desired.
  • To make ahead or store, put in a container, cover the surface with a little more olive oil and keep in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to a month.