It’s summer in the city! It has been crazy hot here this past week and turning on my oven just hasn’t been an option. I have air conditioning but don’t ever use it. In the three years that I have lived in my place the AC has been turned on less than 5 times; all of those times I had guests. Even though I am a fan of the heat, I try not to add to it for the sake of my family and poor little Kona, so the oven has been off for the most part. Since I make all of our meals from scratch I have had to be a bit more creative in my meal planning.
Normally I don’t eat too much pasta this time of year, it always seems to be more of a heavy, cooler weather meal in my house. However, it does make a great meal for weeknights because it is just so quick and easy. On top of that it doesn’t need the oven to be turned on, a major bonus when it is 30 Celsius outside (I find that this is the temperature where most Canadians start complaining about the heat). This led me to put my thinking cap on this past week. I wanted to find fresh pasta recipes that are appealing in the warmer weather. Naturally my first thought was pesto, but it is normally ridiculously expensive. I love pesto so much, but I find the cost hard to justify, so it was time to do some digging. I found some inspiration on the internet and decided that a kitchen play session was in order.
This pesto is just so good and simple. It is also much cheaper than traditional pesto which uses expensive pine nuts. I was a bit nervous about substituting kale for basil, but the flavor in this is really good. I put this on pasta with chicken and topped with some goat cheese, however it is super versatile and you have a ton of options. You could put it in a cream sauce, a bean salad, pizza or top fish with it. This recipe makes a very big batch, but it freezes really well so you don’t have to worry about eating pesto for a week straight. If you have a nut allergy and want to skip the walnuts I think that sunflower seeds (raw unsalted) or hemp hearts would make a lovely substitution.
Kale Walnut Pesto
1 Large Head of Curly Kale
1 Small Onion
0.75 Cups Shelled Unsalted Walnuts
3 TSP Chopped Garlic
1 TSP Salt
0.5 Cups Olive Oil
0.5 TSP Chili Flakes
Wash the kale and remove the worst of the stems
Peel and quarter the onions
Juice and zest the lemon, discard pith and seeds
Add the kale to your food processor, and using the all-purpose blade puree until smooth
Be patient with this, you will need to push the kale down a few times
Add the onion and walnuts and keep on pureeing
Add everything else and puree until smooth
Give your pesto a taste, add salt as needed.
From here you can toss your pesto with cooked pasta, or top cooked fish/chicken, even mix it with a canned of drained chickpeas for an easy base for a bean salad.