Kale Pesto with Red Pepper and Toasted Walnuts RecipeCourse: Vegetarian
Kale is well known for its nutritional value, which even rivals spinach in protein, but don’t tell Popeye that! Kale is part of the Mustard family, which also includes collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and some wild varieties of cabbage.
It is one of the most protein-rich vegetables you can find, and it is a staple source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. It has more calcium than milk per calorie and more iron than meat per calorie. Kale’s intense green leaves are dripping in chlorophyll, which gives our cells and immune system a burst of energy. Their leaves are tougher than most leafy green vegetables, but that extra toughness is attributed to the high amount of fiber they have. Just 1 fat-free cup of raw kale contains 33 calories and can deliver 5 percent of your daily recommended fiber, 134 percent vitamin C, 9 percent calcium, 6 percent iron, 206 percent vitamin A and 2 grams of protein.
There are many varieties of kale, but for the most part, they are regularly found in grocery stores in both the flat and decorative, curly leaf varieties. Both can be used in the same way for preparing dishes such as baked chips, stews, soups, salads, smoothies, pesto and sautéed into side dishes. Sometimes, kale leaves can be a bit bitter in taste, but the bitterness is easily remedied with cooking. Younger leaves are best in fresh kale recipes.
The following recipe is a kale pesto, which follows the traditional method that usually uses basil. Kale is just as flavorful and delicious in a pesto as basil leaves, and they are a frugal ingredient as well.
1 bunch of kale leaves with the stems and bottom removed
¾ cup of walnuts
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
½ cup olive oil for topping
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C° (350 degrees F). Evenly distribute the walnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until they are toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Bring a large pan or stockpot filled with water and a teaspoon of salt to a steady boil. Add the kale leaves to the pot and let them simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender.
- Remove the kale and drain the water. Set them aside until they are cool enough to handle.
- Use your hands to gently squeeze out the remaining moisture.
- Place the leaves, walnuts, garlic, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Pulse 5 to 10 times or until the mix is the consistency of small grains. Add the ½ cup of olive oil and pulse another three to five times, or until the oil is well integrated into the mixture. Be careful to pulse slowly so that it retains a grainy texture.
- When finished, add salt to taste if you like.