Lemony Kale Pesto with Walnuts

I wanted to write something profound about how I often miss the way I felt in church as a kid on Easter Sunday.  The way the trumpets and lilies and hymns stirred my kid soul and made me joyful.  I want to pay homage to those memories, those experiences, but couldn’t find exactly the right words to do so.  So I will simply offer that as a grown up, I’ve gladly realized closeness with the divine has no boundaries. We all just have to find our temples.

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No matter how you choose to celebrate it, Easter can mark a day of renewal, of rebirth.  Check in with your New Year’s resolutions.  Do some deep-belly breathing before you get out of bed.  Let the sun shine on your face for an extra minute or two.  See the beauty in being alive today.  Make a healthy meal to nourish your body and share it with loved ones to nourish your soul.

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I offer you this pesto recipe which you can whip up and use as the base for a springy salad to bring to tomorrow’s festivities.  In this way, you will effectively help counterbalance the salty ham, cheesy potatoes and Cadbury cream eggs.  Don’t even get me started on Peeps.

Lemony Kale and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is great on lots of things.  I used it as the dressing for a cold farro salad studded with golden raisins, currants, toasted walnuts, and chopped roasted red pepper.   Try it on your leftover hard-boiled Easter eggs.  Stir it generously into penne pasta, or slather it on boiled potatoes and throw in some chopped black olives for a quick, greened-up potato salad.

Ingredients:

2 bunches kale (any variety will work but let’s be honest, most of us prefer dinosaur, right?)

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup toasted walnuts or other nut of choice

Juice of one large lemon or two small guys

2/3 cup olive oil …ish

salt to taste

water as needed

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Method:

Bring a large (3  quart or bigger) pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Wash your kale.  Cut off the thick, lower portion of the stems and discard or save for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

Peel your garlic and drop the cloves into the boiling water.  This will take the bad-breath edge off, amazing!  Then throw all the chopped kale into the pot and use a wooden spoon to make sure everyone is dunked under the water.

Continue cooking kale for about 30 SECONDS, and then quickly retrieve it along with the garlic cloves using a slotted spoon or strainer and drain well.  Save the kale cooking water!

*blanching the kale in this way will denature the enzymes that will eventually turn your kale pesto that nasty shade of olive green/brown as well as tone down the “grassy” flavor, which is nice if you’re serving to a diverse audience (read: picky)*

Use a clean dish towel or paper towel to blot the kale dry and then put it all in a blender along with the garlic, grated cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until the consistency resembles a milk shake, adding some of the kale cooking water as needed to move things along.

Once you get the desired consistency, taste the pesto and add salt until it tastes just right.

Pour your pesto into a jar for later use or directly onto some farro or other hearty grain for a great salad/ side dish for your Easter feast!

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