This last weekend was THE weekend we were to wrestle our kale into jars. We’ve been tackling the more fragile, tempermental foods leaving the kale in the cold, wet garden where it stood green, tall and eager amidst the frost casualties.
In May I planted 12 starts (for $2!) that I purchased from a local farm. In June I bought six more off the clearance table and tucked them in around the garden. We’ve never grown kale before and quickly found ourselves in stride with daily hearty salads. Literally, we have had kale salad every day since May. And nobody – including the kids – is tired of it! Wondering if there is some kind of addictive quality to this robust, happy plant? We are hooked.
Salads every day led to giving away giant bags to neighbors and friends. By summer’s end, I was pulling entire plants out of the ground to give. Still, we had so much kale. I put out a few queries on instagram and someone suggested pesto! Brilliant! What an easy, efficient way to store this super food that detoxifies, reduces risk of cancer, lowers cholesterol and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Recipes abound but I made up my own, wanting to also use other lingering garden swag. YOU GUYS, it is so good. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with pesto but this pesto is a spicy, hearty cousin to the more delicate, slippery basil-pine nut combo.
4 cups packed kale
1 leek, sliced (this video shows a great way to clean leeks!)
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parm
1/2 tsp salt
5 garlic cloves
* to roast seeds: toss with olive oil and salt, place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 10-20 minutes)
The pumpkin seeds added tremendous flavor and crunch. Being a seed and not an oily nut, I had to up the olive oil. If using a different nut, start with 1/2 the oil (1/4 cup) in the recipe. We found 1/4 cup to be plenty with toasted pine nuts.
Prep your food and toss it in a food processor. We borrowed our neighbors and now ‘food processor’ tops my list of kitchen wants. Man, this went so fast! And clean up was a snap!
This recipe yields about 10 full pesto cubes.
To preserve the bright green, vitamin-packed purée, prompty slather the mess into ice cube trays. Pop the cubes into jars or bags, label and freeze.
We use frozen pesto all the time. A few ideas:
* toss 2-3 cubes in with onion to start soups
* use as pizza sauce
* garnish sandwiches, burritos and burgers
* mix with plain yogurt for a dip, serve with crackers or veggies
We made a soup last night that Margot and Ruby declared to be the best soup mama’s ever made which is saying something since I make soup several times a week. Three kale pesto cubes, onion, leek, 4 large golden beets, 6 large carrots, water.
My favorite with this kale pesto: straight up on an apple slice.
We still have about half to preserve. The sled of kale sits in our garage. I couldn’t stand to stay in the kitchen and out of the blue sky one more minute yesterday. Breaks are necessary, yes?