Thursday, August 8, 2013

Experimenting with Kale: Zesty Kale Pesto

Assuming you read my last post on my Kale experiment, I'd like to announce that I am concluding my experiments with Kale right here. Because something happened yesterday that just changed my whole take on Kale. This incident has been so moving, I believe God had this dish in mind when She/He created/designed Kale. The dish I am talking about is Pesto. A pesto made from Kale.No, I am not exaggerating! I am never buying a Pesto from the Grocers ever again!  You have to try this if you like Kale. You will be surprised how good this dish is taste-wise, and health-wise.  So here are the series of incidents that got me here, from "Meh, Kale!" to "Whoa! Kale?!"
I had another bundle of Kale left over from the last experiment (Baked Kale Chips), in the refrigerator, nicely wrapped between damp paper towels and stashed in a Green Bag. That really keeps any leaf fresh. But every time I opened the refrigerator door, the resourceful, small voice in my head kept saying in an annoying tone that this amazing, green, leafy vegetable was slowly dying on me, without making its chock full of nutrients available to anyone. That usually made me close the refrigerator pretty fast and pout for a few seconds.
And then, this month's subscription of Food Network Magazine came in my mail and as I leafed through the recipes, there it was! A pretty picture of spaghetti swirling in that beautiful, my fave kind of green sauce. The given recipe was a Kale Pesto with Walnut and Parmesan, but that gave me the brilliant idea and got me inspired on making something similar with my poor, ignored bunch of Kale.
My recipe is more based on the preferences of my kids, who are picky, snobby eaters.( And also, what was available in the refrigerator). I had some toasted almonds left over from my last session of Biscotti-making. So I used almonds instead of pine nuts which are traditionally used for Pesto. I used a sauce retaining Macaroni to stir the sauce into, and somehow it also made the pasta kid-friendly. (My son, the aforementioned picky snobby eater approved it and finished his bowl too! Now that enough of a compliment for me..God knows that kid hates his veggies!)



I made this pesto while the Pasta water was nearing a boil. So you will see the give and take of Pasta water in many parts of the recipe.
* If you are planning to make it in advance or for the long haul, make sure you double the amount of Olive oil, and omit any addition of Pasta water in the Pesto. The pesto freezes very well, and can also be used for making a Vegetarian Pizza. I will post that recipe soon.
*This Pesto recipe yields about 4-5 cups of pesto which I used up over a period of 2 days.
So here it goes:

1 bundle of Kale- washed thoroughly, thick stalks removed and trimmed
1 cup of Almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
4-5 cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Lemon Zest or from 1 lemon (whichever is more)
1/2 a lemon's juice, freshly squeezed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
Pasta Water (the water in which you boiled Pasta)-- as required.
Salt and Pepper



Method:-In a food processor/ coffee grinder, grind the almonds finely. Keep aside.
Blanch the kale leaves briefly in boiling hot water. (That water getting ready for the pasta happens to be the perfect choice for this! And you can use the same water for Pasta after this.) Blanch the Kale just enough to wilt them and cool them off in a cold water bath. Squeeze out all the water from the leaves. This locks in the bright green color in the pesto.
In a blender, add garlic, blanched kale, lemon juice and lemon zest and grind well, slowly adding the olive oil until all the oil is used up and a fine smooth mixture is obtained.
Pour the ground up puree into a bowl and stir in the ground almonds and cheese. Stir well. If you are finding the pesto too thick, add a couple more dashes of olive oil. If you are going to use all that pesto right away, cheat and add a couple spoonfuls of pasta water. You don't need that much oil, even if its all good-for-you stuff!
Now check salt, add more if needed and stir in a few twists of freshly cracked pepper.
Serve over hot, cooked pasta of your choice and garnish with sliced, pitted black olives. Pair it with any Meaty Main Courses or just serve it Plain, its yummy! Enjoy!!!

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