2 for 1 recipe -- Kale and Basil Pesto and baked Turkey and Kale Meatballs

I do it all the time as a single, cooking-for-one, home chef. I buy way too much of one ingredient and assume Im going to be able to use it in time this week it was baby kale. So with a chilly afternoon on my hand and a very large container of greens, I needed a recipe that would help use all of it and thus a speedy pesto and baked meatball recipe was born and I thought it was perfect for my first recipe post to this blog!

I love making my own pesto it tastes better than store-bought and it freezes well for up to a few months (though one 16 oz jars worth never lasts me that long). I like making mine with spinach or kale to give it a little oomph and make me feel healthy.

I also tend to bake my meatballs often, especially when Im using turkey. The result is something versatile that I can use with pesto sauce like this recipe, tomato sauce, on a sub, or on their own with toothpicks as an appetizer.

For the sake of this meal, I even brushed some homemade pesto on the top of the meatballs before popping them into the oven, and then tossed some of sauce with some pasta (I like a rotini, a farfalle, or a fusilli that really gives the pesto something to hold on to).

Without further ado, here are both recipes and a link to a printable PDF version of both is available at the end of this post!

Kale and Basil Pesto

Yield: 16 oz jar of sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Total Time: 10 minutes


5 cups lightly packed baby kale
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1 1/2 minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a food processor, combine kale, basil, garlic, lemon
    juice, parmesan, and almonds until coarsely chopped
  2. While running the processor, drizzle in the oil. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the machine with a rubber spatula. Continue until mostly smooth
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste

NOTES: Store unused pesto in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze in ice cube trays or portioned out in freezer bags for 3 months. Can substitue walnuts or cashews in place of almonds.

Turkey and Kale Meatballs

Yield: 12 meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18-22 minutes
Total Time: 28-32 minutes


1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large egg
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 cops lightly packed baby kale
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp kale and basil pesto (Optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray
  2. Roughly chop kale and set aside
  3. In a large bowl combine ground turkey, egg, onion powder, garlic, breadcrumbs, parmesan, oregano, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, salt, olive oil. Add kale and mix contents until well combined.
  4. Form into 12 meatballs and space out on baking sheet
  5. Optional: Brush the tops with about 1/2 tsp of kale pesto sauce each
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until cooked through

NOTES: Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Can substitute garlic cloves for 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Can substitute ground turkey for chicken.


Let me know how your pesto and meatballs turned out in the comments!


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