4
| Recipes |

Don't Like Kale? Try Making Pesto with It.

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

I was eating dinner with my parents, and my 80 year-old father, who doesn't sugarcoat his opinions, said that he didn't like kale. o be more precise, he was chewing with effort and his face was contorted with a look of disgust. Then, as he half swallowed and half gagged he dissed the green currently favored by trend-spotters and healthy eaters. It was a texture thing, and one I've heard from others. Now I had a sort of culinary puzzle to solve. How to turn kale into something other than kale?

See Also: AndyTalk: A Hard Cheese Is Good To Find AndyTalk: The Trouble with Balsamic Vinegar

In this case the solution was pretty easy. With a food processor (or blender) and some pantry basics I turned kale into pesto. The proverbial sow's ear was now a smooth-if-not-quite-silky green sauce that can turn store-bought gnocchi (or pasta) into dinner.

When I make pesto with basil I put all the ingredients into a food processor and puree. With basil you can even use a mortar and pestle, but that's a lot of grinding and mashing so it's the kind of chore I assign in a teambuilding class, as opposed to doing of my own volition.

But kale isn't an herb like basil, and its leaves are pretty tough by comparison. Before grinding it to a pulp it benefits from being roughly chopped and then tossed into a pot of boiling salted water. I like to toss in a couple of cloves of garlic as well. The kale and garlic get pureed, and I use some of the cooking water to thin the pesto. I use less olive oil when I use the water, so the pesto is lighter -- in terms of both calories and texture. Raw pecans add sweetness and a pleasant nutty flavor to the pesto. The pecans also give the pesto more body than I'd get with only pureed leaves. Fresh lemon juice, olive oil, a little nutmeg, and some salt and pepper finish the pesto. I used a Meyer lemon, which is sweeter than a regular lemon, but any lemon will work. I made a conscious decision not to add grated cheese to the pesto. My go-to recipe for basil pesto uses Parmesan, but I wanted to keep the kale pesto vegan. The addition of a cheese would only make it better.

I like to keep a package or two of gnocchi in the pantry, which like pasta comes in handy when I'm making dinner on the fly. Admittedly, this is most of the time when I'm not cooking at work. Topped with a little slivered shallot and fresh red pepper the gnocchi with kale pesto makes a hearty dinner. Bottom line: Even if you're not impressed with kale, it's hard not to like pesto.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.