Monday, November 21, 2011

A Winter Pesto

As I look for a healthy snack, something quick, easy and flavorful, I wander to my freezer for an all time, garlicky favorite, Kale Pesto.

Kale is a hardy winter green and one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, full of vitamins, nutrients and flavor.
"One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus." -
Hard to argue with that! It is a superfood for sure, cancer fighting, cholesterol reducing, blood cleansing, etc, etc. But not everyone loves the taste, or even mildly tough texture of kale on its own. Remedies to this are to steam it briefly then add it to soup, lasagna, stir-fries, omelets or dips, or absolutely anywhere else you can sneak it in. 

I make this easy pesto not to hide the flavor of kale, but more as an excuse to eat raw garlic. 

Kale Walnut Pesto


It's almost too pretty to eat
So few ingredients, so much pesto!

    1 bunch of kale
    5 cloves of garlic 
(more or less to taste, I Always use more, to the detriment of my 
    loved ones, or anyone I speak to that day)
    1/2 Cup walnuts
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Olive or grapeseed oil 
   1 hunk of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or other favorite hard cheese, grated (omit and add more nuts for Vegan)
    Food Processor

Wash and Chop

Be sure to rinse your kale thoroughly, as dirt and sand loves to hide in those curly crevices. I rinse the leaves first, then de-stem and chop them, then rinse again in a colander.

 My Process for de-stemming is simple. I grip the outer stem at the bottom with 2 fingers and slide them up, taking the leaf off with me. I used to cut way the leafs but that was messy and wasteful. This seems to be the fastest way, as long as it is healthy kale with strong stems.

Be sure to save the stems in a bag in the freezer to make free veggie stock, or add to meat stocks.
Finely chop the walnuts and garlic in the food processor, in that order. Simply add one to the other.

Steam, Process, Repeat

For a quick steam to soften the kale, boil about an inch of water in a Large pot. If your pot is too small, the kale may fit, but it will not cook evenly, in which case, you can just cook it in batches.  Steam it in the boiling water, with a quick flip or stir after a minute so it doesn't get soggy. If you have a steamer basket, simply steam it in that for a few minutes, until it turns a very bright green. Don't over cook.

If you have a big enough processor, you can add  kale to the garlic/nut mixture now, a bit at a time until it is all in there, slowly adding oil and lemon juice for taste and consistency while processing. Finish with cheese, if using and give a good final blend.

I have a small one, so I make it in batches. I remove about 1/2 of the nut/garlic mixture to a separate bowl. I then add a solid handful of the washed and steamed kale, a bit of oil, lemon juice and cheese and process well. I then remove most and add some garlic/nut mix and repeat the process. I do this until I have achieved the texture and taste I want, adding back the already mixed batch, combining and tasting the whole time. It is more of an experiment than a science, every time. And I end up eating about 1/4 of it in the process. 

It freezes well and defrosts quickly, if it makes it to a container! I use it on rice cracker, veggies, omelets and a spoon. Try it for a different and colorful h'orderve or to liven up some fish.

 Pesto on Garden Tomatos
Pesto Pizza on GF Wrap with Provolone



Kale, in all its glory.

Some other ways I enjoy kale:

Steamed Kale with Grape Tomatoes and Tilapi with Chili-Lime-Butter

Kale "Saag" Paneer (homemade paneer)

A Winter Pesto on Punk Domestics


  1. Made this pesto tonight because my kale was getting past its prime. OMG!! It's so good! I personally do not like oily pesto, so I only used probably 2-3 TBSP of olive oil, and then I just added some water to get the consistancy right. I also added some white balsamic vinegar, along with the lemon juice. I absolutely adore this, and will make it again and again!

  2. I'm glad you liked it :) It's getting to be time for me to make another batch as well.