(Somewhat lazy) Lactino Kale Pesto and Lumachine

I was going to make some butternut squash risotto for dinner later, then I realized that I only had one carton of vegetable stock. Well, that wouldn’t do because I need 6-8 cups of stock. I didn’t feel like going outside and interrupting my work flow, so, the risotto will have to wait another day. And here I was all jazzed about risotto. Oh well. I searched in my fridge (which makes it sound like I have a bottomless vegetable crisper) and decided to use the lactino kale and make some pesto. So, I made it, tasted and adjusted and I’m still not sure about it. I added toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper…BUT, it was still too bitter. Hm. So I added dash of white balsamic vinegar, some lemon zest and half a lemons worth of juice. Still not too sure. I will try it later. If it’s a fail, well, that’s okay. We should embrace our failures as much as our successes. I froze more than half the huge portion and will eat the remainder this week. After all, it’s just me here. No one to impress, really..

I wanted to use tiny shell pasta or even orzo for this. Of course you can use penne, rigatoni, or a tube pasta. Or, you can use a grain like couscous, farro, or barley too.

Kale Pesto

  • One bunch of lactino kale, washed trimmed
  • 1/3 -1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of toasted walnuts
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • Dash of white balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Concerning the kale, I cut off the very end of the stalks but used most of the stems in addition to the leaves. (Hm, maybe that’s where some of the bitterness comes from?). Put all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. You may only need 1/3 cup of oil. If you have walnut oil, you could use that instead too. If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds. Those are good too. I don’t like pine nuts, hence they’re not in the recipe. Serve with warm pasta. Also, don’t drain out all the pasta water. While adding the pesto to the pasta in the bowl, add a few ladles (1/2 cup) of the pasta water. The starchy water makes the sauce creamier/thicker and helps with the consistency.

Pesto, Numerous Ways

It’s been scorchingly hot these past few days in NYC. I’m not a hot weather sort of girl and I seriously don’t want to make my apartment hotter by using the oven when the A/C is running. Even though, I have been itching to bake. Ah, hopefully it will cool down in the next few days. But, I digress.

What’s more simple and yet kind of fancy at the same time than freshly made pesto? I try to not buy the store bought stuff, even though it can be a time saver in a pinch because, for me, nothing beats fresh pesto. Plus, you can freeze single use portions in an ice cube tray and use throughout the year. There are so many greens out there now at farmer’s markets, so let’s use them! Rather than make tradional pesto with basil I like to use different greens like arugula, spinach, or kale. I don’t really have a written down recipe, so what’s below is an estimate that you can tweak to your liking. I usually add some toasted almonds or walnuts too which brings an additional flavor element to the pesto. Use on pasta, grains like barley or farro, potatoes, homemade pizza, or steamed veggies.

I use spinach in this recipe, but this recipe is highly adaptable. Use whatever greens you have on hand.

  • 1 bunch (or 2, if small) of spinach, cleaned, patted dry
  • Handful of toasted almonds
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil (or more if necessary)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor until well blended. I omitted the cheese above, but do sometimes add a bit of good quality pecorino. I also add red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a kick. I used this pesto on pasta, but also tried it on farro which was equally delicious. To me, pesto is summer…eaten hot or cold. Enjoy!