I diligently planted several basil plants a few weeks ago. A few days later a crazy hail storm arrived. Afterwards, my poor basil plants were diminished to nothing but stems. So I replanted. All along, I was motivated by dreams of pesto. Pesto on pizza, pesto on pasta, pesto on sandwiches and pesto on warm potatoes. Maybe even a bowl of pesto all by itself.
Basil is a traditional ingredient of pesto, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Translated from Italian, pesto means to crush or to pound. And if you’re an Italian grandma, you probably do your crushing and pounding with a mortar and pestle – not a food processor. But times have changed, and so should pesto.
Pesto, meet everyone’s darling green vegetable – kale. With kale absolutely everywhere these days, and at an extremely affordable price ($2 – $4 a bunch, on average) it makes good sense to transform a bunch into pesto, as long as you’re using a food processor, that is. I often find myself with more than enough kale and looking for ways to eat it that aren’t just another plate of greens, if you know what I mean.
Unlike kale, basil doesn’t have a strong, prominent flavor. It allows the other pesto ingredients – nuts/seeds, cheese, and garlic to really stand out. I like to change things up with the choice of nuts or seeds too. Pine nuts tend to be out of my price range so I opt for whatever I have on hand. Often, it’s sunflower seeds. I’ve also tried pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans and almonds. I think it’s personal preference. In the end, it all gets crushed together and hey, that means pesto, right?
While I’m advocating for kale based pesto today, you should experiment with different herbs and leafy greens.
- 1 bunch (3 cups) kale
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Pulse sunflower seeds in the food processor until finely ground.
- Add kale, garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
- Add Parmesan and blend to combine.
- Taste and add more ingredients as needed to reach your desired consistency and taste.