One thing that enjoys a cool summer is kale. Man, do we have kale!
Usually, we have a lot of kale early in the summer, and then again in the fall, but this summer the spring kale never tried to go to seed, so it is still going strong. Every morning, when I go down to tend to the chickens, I make a detour through the garden to grab a handful of kale for my breakfast smoothie. Often we have it for dinner as well, and we are still overloaded.
So, I wanted to find a way to use up a lot of kale – and possibly get some put by for the winter. Which is where pesto comes in very handy. ‘Cause though you can freeze kale [and I do, for smoothies, and soups], it is not the most wonderful thing to thaw out and eat as a vegetable side in the winter.
Pesto, on the other hand, is pure magic straight from heaven. You can barely tell the difference between fresh and frozen pesto in either taste or appearance. Thaw out a “pestocube” and mix it into cooked pasta or something like roasted cauliflower, and you will swear you have been transported back to August, no matter what time of year it is.
Kale Walnut Pesto is more than just delicious though – it is also really good for you. Both kale and walnuts are kind of like superheros when it comes to nutrition, and running them through the food processor to make pesto just releases even more of that goodness so your body can use it more easily. And if you either just skip the cheese, or substitute nutritional yeast, you have vegan pesto. Gluten free? Pesto is already gluten free, so you just make sure you use it only on veggies or rice or gluten free pasta.
- 8 ounces [approximately] kale
- 1 packed cup basil leaves
- 1 cup walnut halves, toasted
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- a few grinds of fresh black pepper
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese*
- ½ cup good olive oil [might need up to ¾ cup]
- Wash the kale thoroughly. If it's home grown, or from anyplace other than the supermarket, inspect it for hitch-hikers - you are likely to find some. I use the sprayer in the sink, and as hot water as comes from the spigot and give it a very careful washing. The hot water will actually soften it up a bit and help preserve more of the bright green color.
- Remove the center ribs from the kale. No need to chop it up - just put it all right in the food processor and give it a few pulses so that everrything else will fit in there.
- Add to the kale in the processor, the basil, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon juice.
- Pulse a few times - scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.
- Run the processor on high speed for a minute or so, until everything is very finely ground up.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the cheese and pulse a few times to incorporate it.
- Add ½ cup of the olive oil through the fill tube, with the processor running.
- Taste the pesto - it might need more salt, and if it is terribly thick, you might want to add more oil.
- Pesto is great on pasta, as a sauce on grilled meats, mixed into roasted veggies or rice - it's good on just about everything.
- You can freeze it in an ice cube tray, or as I do in a muffin tin - I line each spot in the tin with a small piece of plastic wrap. That ensures the frozen pesto will come out easily, and then I wrap each cube tightly which prevents freezer burn - store in a ziplock or other freezer safe container. To use, take out a bit ahead and allow it to thaw, then use just as you would fresh.
- It will keep in the fridge for a week.
Pesto is easily made vegan by simply leaving out the cheese, or by substituting nutritional yeast in an equal amount.
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