Are you growing kale in your garden? We’ve had lots of cold weather this spring, but it was interspersed with some very hot weather and so my brassicas, kale included, have all bolted (gone to seed). I'd been planning to make some kale pesto even before I’d realized they'd bolted (seems like it happens overnight!). I'd had broccoli raab pesto at a restaurant before with littleneck clams, navy beans and spicy sausage tossed with farfalle and it was excellent. The fresh, grassy, sweet broccoli taste was present, but was in no way overwhelming. I had a similar good feeling about the taste of kale pesto, and I am pleased to say I was right. It was just as delightful as its broccoli raab counterpart and even less funky. The toasted pecans lent it a lovely bit of sweetness. It is a good way to use up Kale that has bolted, as it does not taste bitter, especially alongside the sweet, nutty toasted pecans. I never include cheese in my pesto (only add it at the time of serving), as it keeps better in the fridge.
The first night we enjoyed it on oversized macaroni noodles with lots of parmesan. Night two we enjoyed it with a sweet potato fry and andouille sausage tray bake. It was delightful! I’ve included the recipe for the pesto as well as the tray bake. For the tray bake, any spicy sausage will do, as long as it is already fully cooked.
Yield: 1.5 cups
2 cups kale, stems trimmed off
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup olive oil
Big pinch kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans (toast at 350 for no more than 3 minutes)
Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino for serving (to taste)
Combine all ingredients except cheese in your blender. Pulse until it has become a silky paste.
Boil pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done, ladle 1/4 to 1/3 cup pasta water into your serving dish, along with 1/4 cup pesto, a handful of grated cheese and 1 Tablespoon butter. Toss in pasta and stir to thoroughly coat. Serve with the amount of cheese preferred by each person.
Sweet Potato Fries and Andouille Tray Bake
1.25 lbs sweet potato, cut into 1/2“ wedges
1 lb andouille sausage, but on the bias into 1/2“ chunks
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Kale and Toasted Pecan Pesto (recipe above)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato wedges with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove tray from the oven and raise heat to 450F. Spread sausage slices evenly. Return to the oven and bake for five minutes, or until the fries are fully cooked and the sausage has crisped up a bit. Serve tossed with Kale and Toasted Pecan Pesto.