Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto – Your First Taste of Summer

I still have three feet of snow in my front yard, and we've had snow flurries almost every day for the past week.
I'm pretty sure the fresh asparagus I've seen in the grocery store is the closest I'll see of spring. But my body is craving the bright and dark leafy greens of summer.
Until I figure out how to grow a hydroponic indoor garden, as my friend Tara suggested, or until the farmer's market opens in June of July? I'll have to make due with the greens I find at City Market.
When I think of summer I think of gazpacho made from unsweetened tomatoes or in the case of today's column, I think of pesto.
I love pesto because of the powerful punch it packs in flavor. I also love its versatility.
I can toss it with pasta and serve it by itself or with shrimp and I've got a quick and easy dinner.
I can slather a filet of fish with pesto to add richness to an otherwise bland fish.
Or I can add more olive oil and serve it on the side of a steak as a close approximation of chimichurri sauce.
Need to give your soup a kick?
Add a dollop of pesto and it becomes pistou! Suddenly your familiar minestrone, sausage and white bean, or turkey and kale soup become an culinary adventure to  Provence.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made in 3 minutes in the bowl of your food processor and it stores well in a jar in the refrigerator.
What makes it perfect for every palette is that depending on the greens you choose, you can end up with the peppery hotness from arugula, the mild sweetness from baby spinach, or the rustic richness that comes from using kale, as I did today.
 Watch this quick video demonstration (you can find more cooking videos on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneElizabeths)
Or, scroll down to the recipe below.
Then head to the kitchen and make your own!

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Basic Pesto Recipe:
1 large bunch of your favorite greens: kale, spinach, arugula, or a combination
3 cloves of garlic, skins removed
1/2 cup of your favorite nuts: pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans 
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt such as kosher or Maldon salt
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan 

Directions:
1. Chop the large stalks off the bottoms of the greens. Then chop the greens into large pieces
2. Add the garlic, the greens, the nuts, salt, and pulse the until well chopped. Gradually add the olive oil until you reach the consistency you want. Add the parmesan and combine. 
3. Store the pesto in a jar, with the top covered with oil, in the refrigerator.
 
This Week's Book Recommendation:
My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients that Make Simple Meals Your Own
by Alice Waters
"When I come back home from a trip, one of the first things I need to do is walk into my kitchen and look around. It always makes me feel better when I know exactly where I am. First I see, next to the stove, the old Middle Easter copper tray, and on it the glass cruet of vinegar, and the pepper mill and friendly little bowls of salt mixtures and chile flakes; and I open the cupboard, and spot the pasta and lentils and beans, and look up and see a beautiful row of jars of homemade preserved tomatoes alternating with jars of apricots sparkling in syrup."
Those are opening sentences from Alice Waters', sure to be a classic in culinary literature, MY PANTRY. I am so in love with this book. My heart was captured from the opening sentences and within 30 minutes of flipping through the pages, I was in the kitchen, following her recipe for Roasted Eggplant Caponata. 
Heaven.
If you are a beginner in the kitchen or an experienced cook, you will treasure the timeless wisdom of this small book. The essential recipes you need to create a working pantry and the foundation recipes to build your culinary repertoire are here: chicken stock, white bean crostini, make your own ricotta cheese, or create a variety of sweet preserves. The pages are also filled with whimsical illustrations by Fanny Singer, Alice Waters' daughter. 

Run, don't walk, to The Next Page bookstore in Frisco, to order your copy!

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