Kale has become one of America’s favorite veggies. Celebrate all things kale with my Kale 3 Ways – Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce, Kale Basil Pesto and Quinoa Power Bowl.
There was a certain time during our camping trip last week that I took my life into my own hands. I was in a stare down with a tired and hungry 4 year old after a day of sun and fun with no nap. I needed to whip up something fast and healthy because I had already busted her hiding under a pillow with marshmallows stuffed in her cheeks like a chipmunk with a third waiting to follow. Needless to say she was not thrilled when I grabbed the lone remaining marshmallow.
I quickly set some water on to boil and pulled some brown rice noodles, nutritional yeast (nooch) and a jar of quality pasta sauce in the cupboard of my little teardrop shaped trailer and some kale from the mini fridge. (What, that’s not normal camping fare?) With those ingredients I made a semi-homemade cheesy kale tomato sauce with a vegan twist by stirring in some nutritional yeast as I heated the sauce and then simmering some finely chopped kale right in the sauce to wilt it down nicely. Voila – it looked like normal pasta sauce but had lots of protein, vitamins and minerals. Once I got home I simply had to create it from scratch. It was super simple to do and would be great over salad, tofu and tempeh, poured over baked dishes or anywhere sauce is used. It’s rich and hearty and has a great balance of acidity, sweet and savory flavors. After trying the sauce, my daughter ate at least a full cup of the made- from-scratch version. I’d much rather see her cheeks fully of healthy sauce than marshmallows!
Kale and Nutritional Yeast
What is nutritional yeast? Find out here. And why all the kale? Kale is that powerful and vibrantly green plant that packs a huge nutrient punch. It is one of the sources of plant based calcium that is super absorbable and alkalizing. It also helps to lower cholesterol, fights inflammation and oxidative stress and has tons of vitamin K, A and C.
Quinoa Bowl and Fresh Pesto
The idea for the quinoa power bowl came from a breakfast dish I had recently at a local restaurant. Their quinoa and kale is typically served with tomatoes, a creamy pesto, chicken and feta so I had to do lots of “leave this off please”. I loved the idea, but there were way too many animal based foods in it. I decided to nix the chicken, feta and creamy pesto and create a virgin olive oil based pesto with fresh garlic, kale and some of the Cheesy Kale Tomato sauce. Wowza! The fresh pesto really makes this dish pop. There is nothing like aromatic basil and garlic with a touch of salt; what a versatile recipe. Here are some ideas of how to use pesto; use it as a spread for sandwiches, stir into soups, use it on pasta, top any vegetable or salad, make hummus or potato salad!
If you don’t have time to make the sauce from scratch but want to try your hand at the quinoa power bowl, simply do what I did the first time – purchase your favorite store bought brand, heat and stir in 2 cups kale and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. No time even for that? Open a can of fire roasted tomatoes, drain and use in place of tomato sauce on the Quinoa Bowl.
Another time saving tip.
There are many delicious store bought versions of pesto. Simply purchase one and add a tbsp to each plate.
Have some extra time to make all three? Here is a handy grocery list.
Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce (Vegan)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 dried bay leave, crushed
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp agave
2 cups finely chopped kale
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Add onion, saute until translucent, about two minutes; add garlic, saute n additional minute. Add carrot and saute about 5 minutes. Add bay, basil, tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer covered on low heat for 30 minutes.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until semi-smooth or to desired texture. Alternatively; process the sauce in a food processor until smooth; stir in agave.
3. Add kale and simmer an additional 20 minutes.
4. Stir in nutritional yeast; and taste to check seasoning.
**If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.
Kale Basil Pesto
Makes about 1/2 cup
Vegan, Gluten Free
1/2 cup chopped kale
Handful fresh basil
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1. Blend all ingredients in a magic bullet or blender.
Quinoa Power Bowl with Tomato Sauce, Kale and Basil Pesto
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce (or sub store bought tomato sauce of choice)
1/2 cup Kale Basil Pesto (or sub store bought pesto of choice)
1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer; heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium stock pan; add quinoa, onion and 2 cloves garlic to heated oil; toast by stirring about 3 minutes; add 1/4 tsp salt and vegetable broth; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, covered and let sit 5 minutes. (Makes 4 cups. Reserve 2 cups for recipe and set aside 2 cups for another use.)
2. Heat second Tbsp olive oil in pot originally used for quinoa; add kale and 1/4 sea salt and second 2 cloves garlic. Saute until wilted; about 5 minutes.
3. Place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 kale mixture; 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1 Tbsp pesto on each of four plates. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
**I have been making quesadillas with my leftover quinoa – delicious!
Quinoa Power Bowl with Tomato Sauce, Kale and Basil Pesto (For the quinoa and kale only.)
Kale 3 Ways – Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce, Kale Basil Pesto and Quinoa Power Bowl
Love eating clean? Snag my 3-Day Clean Food plan. My gift to you because I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to visit. Click here for more info.