Kale or cavolo nero as it’s also referred to is part of the cabbage family. It’s not surprising many hear the word and say “Oh no, I don’t like kale”, as often it’s because it’s been prepared incorrectly. Kale is often the sweetest and best quality through the Autumn and Winter months as this is the time it is harvested. I’ll explain how you can achieve the best flavour and texture for using kale in pesto, as well as if you want to use in soups, salads and more.
A single serving (one cup) of kale has many benefits nutritionally. It provides you with a day’s worth of vitamin A which is important for eye health and immune function which we need especially heading into the colder, darker months of the year. Other vitamins your body will reap the rewards of is vitamin C which is 1000% more than one cup of cooked spinach, as well as K, B6 and also minerals; manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium.
Trust me on this one, ever since developing this recipe over 10 years ago, hundreds of kids have tasted it and all loved it except for one who didn’t even try it!
Here’s my recipe for basil and kale pesto which is quick, easy and a very healthy meal for the family.
The only essential equipment you need is a powerful blender or thermomix which helps with the consistency.
This recipe is a vegan, dairy free and can be nut-free (subs seeds).
Prep time: 25 mins – Serves 8
2-3 cups / a bunch freshly picked or store-bought Kale (any variety will do; Tuscan kale/cavalo nero, green curly kale)
1 bunch basil, leaves only
Small handful fresh oregano leaves; this is optional but adds wonderful flavour and more nutritional benefits.
1/2 cup of nuts; pine nuts and cashews work best (although you can use a mix of macadamias and/or pistachios)
1/4 cup of seeds; pepitas, sunflower seeds are great.
1 clove garlic
1/2 – 2/3 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lemon, juice squeezed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Firstly, Cut the kale leaves away from woody, fibrous stems and discard stems. Soak leaves only for a few minutes in a bowl of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar if you can then drain. This will help loosen any dirt and debris from kale.
Heat a deep saucepan of water till boiling and pop leaves into water to blanch for 1-2 minutes. Have a bowl of iced water ready. Remove the kale leaves from boiling water and plunge into the iced water for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze really dry with an old tea-towel or paper towels.
In a blender/thermomix mill the nuts and seeds for a few seconds until finely chopped, but not a paste.
Add the garlic, basil, kale leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and blend until smooth. Intermittently you can stop blender and scrape down sides to check the consistency. It should be smooth enough to mix through pasta without it being too course. If it is looking course, repeat blending and you can add a little more olive oil or lemon juice to taste for the desired consistency.
Serve with pasta and parmesan if you like, as a base on pizza or on a sandwich as a spread.
Note: This will last 5 days in a fridge covered in airtight container. This pesto also freezes very well for months, so don’t add any parmesan to it and pop in an airtight container in portions required and it defrosts quickly in fridge when you pull it out.