Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Pretty-Much-Anything" Pesto, by Melinda

I've discovered over my years as an RHF member that sometimes you can't get through all our wonderful greens while they're still crispy fresh, especially if you're also growing greens at home or you don't have a large family.  So to use the greens while they still have all their nutritive value, I discovered that lots of them--and I mean HUGE quantities--actually can be processed down to much smaller amounts by using them as the basis for pesto. This also allows you to keep them (in  compact, frozen form) into the depths of winter--it's so great to crack out a truly summery pesto sauce for dinner while the winds and snow are howling outside!
Dino (or Lacinato) kale
Here's one I made in the food processor last week, using all of the kale (removing only the toughest stems), the spinach, and the garlic scapes--everything left in its raw state.

  • 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed if desired
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • several cloves of garlic, or to taste
  • 8 to 10 garlic scapes
  • a sufficient amount of olive oil to get the food processor to do its work
  • about 1/4 to 1/2 cup pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (vegans can use a vegan parmesan substitute or just leave out the cheese altogether)
  • about 1/2 to 3/4 cup nuts (walnuts are good for their hearty flavor, but almonds, cashews, pine nuts, etc., work just as well)
  • several tbsp dried chopped basil OR a handful of fresh basil (or to taste)
  • about 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
Add all your greens to the food processor bowl (do in several batches if necessary) and add enough oil to get it to start chopping down the greens. You'll be astounded at how "small" all those huge greens become!  Gradually add the other ingredients to your processor bowl, each time incorporating them with what's already in there, scraping down the sides of the bowl and adding a bit more oil as necessary.  Process until it's as smooth as you like. It's ready, then, to use or freeze.

Other veggies or greens that can be incorporated into your pesto include beet greens, radish greens, turnip greens, scallions, dandelion greens, foraged greens like purslane, lightly steamed chopped kohlrabi or carrots (their nutrients are more available if lightly cooked), and so forth. Be imaginative! Be creative!

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