Pungent, garlicky kale pesto is perfect with pasta, pizza or your favourite roast veg.
Really, is there anyone who doesn’t like pesto? I love it in all its forms. The traditional basil and pine nut variety is of course delicious, but the possibilities are virtually endless as far as I’m concerned. The key ingredients are something green, something nutty, garlic, oil and salt. The salt could come from parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, but it doesn’t have to. This kale pesto is full of flavour with lots of garlic and a bit of chilli for good measure.
I don’t know if the same is true in all countries, but here in New Zealand the price of pine nuts has become pretty outrageous in the last few years with the regular price being somewhere in the range of $85-$90 per kilo, and even up to $100 per kilo. For a long time I found ways to justify their purchase, but now I’ve drawn a line in the sand and am refusing to buy them on principle. Cashews and almonds are good replacements, and I’ve also been using sunflower seeds more and more as they’re incredibly cheap, and provide a creamy texture when used as an ingredient in things like pesto. Healthy too.
I’ve mentioned the sea of kale in my garden. Well, yes. Let’s just say the sea level is rising. Quickly. So I’m determined that whenever I’m feeling a bit meh about cooking and find myself veering towards takeaways, to at least consider what I might be able to whip up with a bit of kale. I love using it to make vibrant green pesto. Tossed with some pasta or dolloped onto roast veg, it’s a dead easy Friday night dinner.
I like to quickly blanch my kale by pouring boiling water over it in a colander, then refreshing under the cold tap. This isn’t an essential step – you can make a raw pesto if you prefer. I find that the blanched version is easier to blend and has less of that ‘green’ taste that I suspect is what turns some people off kale.
- kale leaves (cavolo nero/lacinato kale), large handful, approximately 2-3 cups roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tbsp water, plus extra if needed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch or two of chilli flakes
- Roughly chop kale and put it in a colander. Pour a jug of boiling water over it, refresh under cold water then use your hands to squeeze out the excess liquid. What started out as half a colander of fresh kale leaves will shrink to a small handful of wilted leaves.
- Put blanched kale and all remaining ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor.
- Blend until smooth but with some remaining texture. Add a little extra water if needed to reach your desired consistency. I like to make mine quite thick to store in the fridge, then adjust the consistency depending on what I'm using it for.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.