Vegan Powerhouse Kale Pesto

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 All I really knew about pesto before waking up this morning is that it contains some type of nut, olive oil, basil, and cheese, and that I used to eat it straight out of the container as a kid. I have this vivid memory of sitting on the curb in a parking lot with my dad, spoon in hand, digging into a tub of freshly opened pesto. I’m surprised I didn’t turn green, given all the pickle juice and pesto I ate. Anyway, I woke up craving pesto today and found myself assembling my trusty food processor moments later, stuffing him (yes, my food processor is a him, and his name is George) full of almonds and basil leaves. I don’t know about your feelings about basil, but the scent of fresh basil almost makes me cry – half because it smells so good and half because I have yet, in a year, to succeed at keeping a basil plant alive. But enough about me. 
 
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 I wish I could say that I went to culinary school and know the perfect ratios for the perfect pesto, but alas, I simply gleaned all of my cooking knowledge from the trusty Food Network. I’m serious. I’ve learned about nearly every type of cuisine, from Italian with Giada to BBQ with Bobby Flay to Japanese with Iron Chef Morimoto. I’ll admit I avoid Paula Deen like the plague, but if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not watching her either. Now let’s talk pesto.
 
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I like to put pesto on EVERYTHING, so I figured my little pesto experiment should be as tasty and as healthy as possible. I also really didn’t feel like going grocery shopping, so I worked with what I had. I have SO MANY ALMONDS so I used them for the nut base, and here’s why: almond are full of nutrients, reduce cancer risk, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood-sugar levels, contain lots of calcium, and promote a healthy nervous system. They are also a high alkaline food, meaning that they promote an environment in the body that fights infection and inflammation – all good things!
 
And anyone who knows me knows my feelings about kale, so I just had to sneak that in there, too. In fact, I blend it into smoothies, munch on kale chips, sauté it in my omelettes, and massage it – yes, massage it – for kale salads. Kale is super trendy right now, boasting lots of of calcium, and high levels of Vitamins K, A, and C. I could laundry list the benefits of kale for you, but I’d pretty much be covering every major system in the body, so let’s just say that it is the Superman of vegetables and that we should all eat more kale, all the time. Seriously.
 
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All that said, this is not your average-tasting pesto. Do not make this and expect to get Olive Garden. This is real, raw stuff. Sure, you could toast the almonds and make it slightly tastier but far less nutritious, or you could add cheese and de-veganize it, but then I wouldn’t have a blog post and you wouldn’t have pretty green pictures on your computer. My roommate says this pesto tastes like “taking a bite out of a farm, in a really good way” so I say let it be vegan, raw, and kaley!

(vegan, raw, sugar/gluten/dairy/soy/peanut/grain/banana-free, paleo)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh PACKED basil leaves (really pack it in there)
  • 1-2 ribs curly kale, de-ribbed, rinsed, and massaged
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t. truffle oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 1/2 t. each)

Preparation

  1. Pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground.
  2. Add basil leaves, garlic, and kale, and blend.
  3. Drizzle olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, as food processor blends. Do the same with the lemon juice. Depending on how tightly you packed your basil, you might need less, so make sure its the consistency YOU like it.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and, optional (but not really optional) truffle oil. Let the food processor do its thing for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth pesto that resembles the myriad of pictures I supplied you with.
  5. Spread on some paleo toast, put it in an omelette, use it on your zucchini pasta, or be like me and eat it straight out of the tub. You can dilute this with some more lemon juice and a bit of coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar and it makes a lovely salad dressing!

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[Nutrition notes: Makes about 7 ounces. A "serving" is 2 tablespoons.]

Question of the Day:

Do you ever watch cooking shows? What is something you have learned from a cooking show?

I watch the Food Network ALL THE TIME! I actually can say I have learned most of what I know from instinct or from picking up techniques from the Food Network. For instance, I learned that you have to let a steak rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it so it can reabsorb the juices. I’ve learned techniques for piping icing onto cupcakes from Cupcake Wars, as well as simple things like how to saute onions.

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  1. [...] Vegan Powerhouse Kale Pesto [...]

  2. […] 8. Powerhouse Kale Pesto Kale has been getting a big spotlight in recent years, and for good reason. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Subbing out basil with kale is a way to give your pesto a big kick in the nutrition department. Joining kale is another superfood, almonds, standing in for pine nuts and providing protein and healthy fats to the pesto, as well as additional fiber. This really is a powerhouse pesto, and something you can feel good about eating. There’s also basil used in this, so it will taste like pesto, but it is infused with plenty of healthy properties you simply don’t get in a traditional pesto. […]

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