Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kale Pesto

 My vegetable garden doesn't produce much during our winters, but I can always count on kale.
After a while though, too much of a good thing can wear a bit thin and I struggle to come up with ways to use it.
Over the years, I've made my share of basil pesto, arugula pesto, spinach pesto, and even cilantro pesto but, until now, had not thought to make pesto out of kale, until I made a batch of kuri squash soup the other day and craved a spoonful of home made pesto to swirl into it.
Now, I ask you, what is pesto but green leafy things, garlic, nuts, cheese, and olive oil all buzzed up into a delicious paste?  You can add a bit of lemon juice or a pinch of red pepper flakes to spice things up a bit, but those are the basics.  So why not kale?
 Turns out, why not kale?  It makes a deeply green, healthful spoonful to swirl into your winter soups and stews. Plus, it tastes really, really good.  I think you should try it.

Christine's Kale Pesto
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4-6 cups (about 6.5 ounces) young kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1 large fresh garlic clove, smashed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil or walnut/olive oil mix
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 teaspoon gray sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the kale, nuts, garlic and cheese in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
With the machine running, drizzle the oil(s) through the feed tube until the pesto is uniformly ground  and spoonably moist. You know, just like pesto.
Add the lemon juice and pulse a few times then taste.  Adjust the seasonings with the sea salt and black pepper, pulsing until incorporated.
Remove from the processor and spoon into a lidded storage container.  Use within a week.
Swirl into soups and stews, serve over hot pasta, shake into vinaigrette. It's all good and good for you.

I used both Russian Red and Lacinato kale for this recipe. Pick only the tender young leaves; the larger, older ones may taste too strong.
Tear the leaves off of either side of the central rib before using.  (My chickens love the ribs.)
I like to freeze what pesto will not be used within a week. Here's a method that allows you to control the thawed portions:  spray the cups of a plastic ice cube tray with a small amount of cooking spray, wipe gently with a paper towel then fill them with the pesto, pressing down to eliminate air pockets. Freeze until solid then pop out the frozen nuggets and place them in zip top freezer bags for freezer burn-free storage.

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