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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kale & Pepita Pesto

Kale & Pepita Pesto
I had every intention of sharing a pie with you today.  I have several 1-pound baggies full of small, local strawberries that I froze at the beginning of summer.  And I was in the mood for pie.  But that all went downhill when I decided to stop at our community garden a few days ago.  I was heading home after running an errand under the steamy midday sun, and I decided to take a detour.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, as I get older, the years fly by faster and faster.  You mean, summer is already well on its way to being over?  When did that happen?  Stopping at the community garden has not even crossed my mind this year.  So, detour...

I pulled over at the curb and snagged a bag from my trunk.  As I made my way down the aisles full of plants picked clean, dodging scary, monstrous, buzzing beetles, I almost gave up hope on finding anything.  I did venture through a couple of ginormous, prickly zucchini leaves successfully.  I wound up clutching a small handful of green beans.  And I won't overlook the single purple basil sprig and 5 rainbow chard leaves.  All of these ingredients make for a great little pasta toss.
Kale & Pepita Pesto
But it was when I stumbled, dumbfounded on row after row of seemingly untouched curly kale.  What!?  Kale is my green of choice.  And when it's in season, I add a little bit to anything it seems right to sneak it into.  And it was in just the state that I wanted it: young, tender, and not too strong.  This way, everybody will eat it with fervor.

I actually walked back to my car to grab a larger bag, which I proceeded to fill to the brim, without putting a dent in the crop.  Seriously, you couldn't even tell I'd been at work.  I'll probably head back this weekend to see if I can get lucky.  If it's still there, I'll be putting up a ton of pesto in the freezer to take me through Autumn, and maybe even into the Winter.

I've been tossing it with pasta and my morning eggs so far.  Steak is on the menu for today, and I plan on using it like a Chimichurri!  And as of now, I plan on seeing a Pesto Pizza on the table tomorrow...
Kale & Pepita Pesto
Oh! And lest you think I forgot about that pie...I totally didn't.  We had it for dessert that very same night.  So although I didn't share it today, keep your eyes peeled for a Strawberry Pie coming your way one of these days.

Kale & Pepita Pesto
Kale and pepitas combine in this vibrant green pesto recipe.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: n/a
Keywords: condiment entree preserving sauce vegetarian soy-free sugar-free gluten-free kale pepitas cheese

Ingredients ((generous) 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces kale (curly or lacinato), rinsed and patted dry
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
  • ~1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (& a few grates of zest)
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups (3 ounces) finely shredded Hirten cheese
  • ½ cup roasted pepitas (salted or unsalted)
Combine kale, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on low speed while drizzling in the olive oil. Process until everything has come together, stopping to scrape down the bowl once, if needed.

Add the cheese and pepitas, process again until everything is just combined. Taste, and adjust lemon juice and seasoning, if needed.

serving suggestions:
Toss with hot pasta or veggies. Serve with steak and/or eggs. Great with grilled chicken or fish.

short term: Scoop into a jar and smooth the top; cover with a light film of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

long(er) term: Spray an ice cube tray or muffin tin with nonstick spray, and then fill the compartments with pesto. Freeze until solid, and then transfer to freezer-safe baggies. Pull out a cube/round or two to toss into a dish, as needed.

I made this pesto after finding a HUGE crop of young, tender curly kale in my community garden. If you have older kale, it may be a bit "tougher". If you like, you can blanch it quickly in boiling water, and then dry it before making the pesto. I'm far too lazy to do that, and I enjoy the raw taste. It's entirely up to you.

Feel free to switch out the pepitas for walnuts, pine nuts, or even almonds if you'd rather.

For the cheese, I used Castello Alps Selection Hirten cheese, because I had a quarter of a wheel in the fridge. It's a hard, crumbly, somewhat salty cheese that reminds me of Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano...feel free to substitute any one or a combination of those cheeses if you can't find Hirten.
Kale & Pepita Pesto