Yummy Kale Pesto

Pesto (arguably the best sauce ever invented), is a staple these days in kitchen cupboards and fridges. Whether it’s the classic green genovese or a tangy red variety; it is an explosion of flavour and can be added to almost anything to make it a winning meal.

Personally, I find that there is no comparison between fresh pesto and the jars you see in supermarket shelves. It’s extremely unforgiving of green pesto, with the finished sauce being bitter and dull in flavour. Red Pestos are the better option if you have to choose a jar, but the difference between it and fresh pesto (found in the chill sections of any supermarket) is unimaginable.

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The quality of pesto readily available to buy in supermarkets is really high, and the cost for the consumer to purchase a tub vs. buying the ingredients and making a batch from scratch don’t add up, which is why the majority of people (myself included) don’t make their own pesto.

Well, until now !

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I thought a simple way to ease into cleaner eating would be at first to modify some sauces, so I came across a few recipes mentioning Kale Pesto. As I was living at home in Sligo for the summer, my family didn’t share the same enthusiasm for a health kick. However the two jars of pesto that this made were scraped clean within a couple of days! Kale, arguably one of the most loved super foods over the past few years, sometimes gets a bad rep.

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This is usually due to the coarse veins in the leaves and slightly tougher texture than regular cabbage. As it is a dark green colour it can be bitter to taste, but some tasty contrasting flavours and seasonings are all it takes to enhance it. Personally I love green vegetables and cabbage, so I always enjoy recipes with Kale. If you’re not a Kale lover yet, try this recipe and let me know your thoughts!


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This pesto is vegan, and as it is dairy free,  you could say that disqualifies it from being a pesto sauce. The key ingredient missing is of course cheese, be it in the form of Parmigiano Reggiano, or a Pecorino (romano or sardo), however you really don’t notice a lack in flavours, which I found surprising.

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If you wanted to replicate the cheesy flavour, I would recommend using some Nutritional Yeast Flakes , you can learn more about them here. They are available to buy in health food shops and selected supermarkets. A heaped teaspoon or (two depending on your tastebuds) will really amp up the flavour of your sauce. I will warn you though, that they do not look appetising at all; fish food comes to mind ! But they’re a brilliant cheese alternative.
Another modification of this recipe is that there are no pine nuts. Why? I hear you ask. Well it’s not that I don’t like them, they are a great nut, BUT they are pretty expensive. Some recipes I saw used Almonds, but in this recipe I have a 50/50 ratio of Almonds and Walnuts. Almonds can be quite sweet and chalky in texture, and I felt with the Kale they might get lost. Walnuts have a great rich, oily flavour and are a bit more robust which I thought would compliment the greens. But only walnuts may have proved too bitter and rough a pesto. These nuts are readily available in any supermarket, and for a cheaper price. Supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi have Almonds and Walnuts beside the baking section for affordable prices. They’re also really versatile which you can read more about here.
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The only equipment you need is either a stick blender and a deep measuring jug or a basic food processer and blender, which most homes have. I’ve included a pestle & mortar in the images, you could easily make a chunkier version of this pesto using one.
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Vegan Kale Pesto

2 cups Kale, Shredded and with larger stems (veins) removed
1 clove of garlic
Juice of 1 Lime
1/4 cup Almonds
1/4 cup Walnuts
1/2 cup Olive Oil (You could use Rapeseed if you prefer)
Salt & Pepper (a pinch)

1) Rinse Kale under cold water, remove veins and shred leaves.
2) Roughly chop the garlic if you don’t have a garlic crusher
(this will release more flavour)
3) pulse all ingredients except the nuts, until smooth.
4) Add the nuts in and pulse until desired consistency.

Note: This Pesto tends to be chunkier, but you could blend it for longer to achieve a smoother texture. Because it has a rougher texture it goes extremely well stirred through pasta, or to dip veggies or crackers into.

How do you like your pesto? Let me know.



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