Move over basil! We’re giving kale the leading role in the pesto jar, at least for today. This is the time of year when spring kale is in abundance. Just last week my crop share had 5 generous bundles of kale (curly, flat, baby, etc.). So I’ve been tossing handfuls into salads, adding heaps to main dishes like this one, baking them in the oven for kale chips, and sneaking a little into the kids’ smoothies. Still, I find that I’m left with some on hand. A great way to use excess kale is to toss a bunch into the food processor, add some seeds or nuts (I like Eden Foods dry roasted pumpkin seeds lightly seasoned with Portuguese sea salt), some grated pecorino, garlic and olive oil and you’ll have Kale Pesto!
The best part of homemade pesto is that you can customize the recipe to suit your preferences by using more or less garlic, or switching out the kale entirely for sun-dried tomatoes or spinach. Spread it on homemade pizza, crostini, pasta, sandwiches, use it as a dip, or add a dollop onto pork or chicken. The pesto-bilities (I know, I know… but, I kale help myself. There I go again…) are plenty and this will keep in the fridge for days without losing its vibrant color.
Oh, and it has that other little thing – nutrition! Lots of it. Just one cup of raw kale has 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, vitamins, A,C, and K, folate, B vitamin, omega-3 fatty acid (not as much as fish though), lutein, potassium, calcium, zinc…. you get the idea. It’s a power green.
Wondering about that robust garlicky bite of a traditional pesto? That flavor hasn’t been compromised one bit. Kale Pesto has the same garlic-infused goodness and subtle grainy texture that you love in a traditional pesto. Think of Kale Pesto as basil pesto’s sibling. Different from each other, but still sharing a common thread.
So, grab a handful of organic or local kale and in just minutes, presto pesto! (… are we still friends?) you can have this easy and delicious pesto, too.
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Makes 1 1/4 Cups
Before chopping kale, rinse, pat dry and remove & discard the tough center stem
1 bunch of fresh kale, roughly chopped (approximately 3 cups when chopped)
1/2 cup organic dry roasted pumpkin seeds (I use Eden Foods brand)
1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese (or substitute with parmesan)
2 cloves of garlic (use more of less for desired flavor)
1/2 cup quality olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add kale and pumpkin seeds to food processor and pulse for a few seconds;
- Add pecorino and garlic and pulse for several seconds more;
- With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil through the top feeder;
- Add lemon juice and salt and pepper and give a few more brief pulses to combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings or olive oil, if necessary;
- Store in an airtight container or mason jar(s). Will keep for several days refrigerated.
You can use almonds, walnuts or cashews in place of pumpkin seeds.
In the summer months, use traditional basil and pinenuts. Or, swap out the greens for sun-dried tomatoes.
Use more or less garlic, depending on taste and preferences. If you aren’t sure, always start with less garlic – you can add more.
Tastes great on crostini, pasta, seafood, chicken, pork, as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip, and if you have a hearty type of soup or stew, a tiny dollop on top takes the soup or stew to the next level.
Get creative in the kitchen and have fun!
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