Remember way back, when the only ‘cell’ phones were attached to your car dashboard, jelly shoes were considered high fashion, and veggies like kale, beets, and brussel sprouts were not so damn ‘hip’ in the cooking world… ? Well I remember, and while I do still wish I could say I had a ‘car phone,’ I never really liked jellies and I happen to love kale, beets, and brussels. I have been eating a ton of kale lately and I wanted to try a little something different with it. I happen to love myself a good kale salad with walnuts and goat cheese so I conjured up an idea of a pesto in which I would use kale and walnuts as replacements for basil and pine nuts. (After congratulating myself on being a culinary genius I googled ‘kale pesto’ to see what would come up and found about a million recipes for it, but that is neither here nor there). I pretty much winged it for this version, which I feel like you kind of have to do when making a pesto, no? Either way I was amazed at how awesome it came out so I wanted to share.
Note: This might not be the dish you make before an activity in which anyone within a half-mile radius may be able to smell your breath. Consider yourself warned.
1 large bunch of Kale, trimmed
1/4 – 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 cup Walnuts
Handful of fresh basil leaves
2 oz Goat cheese
1 oz Parmesan
Juice of half of a lemon
2-3 Garlic cloves
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the kale in it for about 3 minutes. Immediately run under cold water and reserve some of the cooking liquid in case you need to thin out your pesto a bit.
2. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add whole cloves of garlic and the walnuts. Toast for about 10 minutes or until the garlic is a golden brown but not burnt and the walnuts are warmed and toasted. I like to press down on each garlic clove with flat side of my knife to break them up a little before doing this. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
3. Add the cooked kale, basil, lemon juice, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil to a food processor and pulse until combined. Add parmesan and goat cheese continue to pulse, adding more olive oil and/or some of the reserved kale water as needed to thin out the consistency of the pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I tossed mine with some whole wheat spaghetti and topped with more goat cheese!