Winter kale and walnut pesto

First published December 2015 in York Press

I love walking around my local market at this time of year. New season Spanish citrus are out in force – along with locally grown favourites such as Jerusalem artichoke, crown prince squash and super-trendy curly kale.

Whilst the re-emergence of kale is relatively new, we have been growing this dark, calcium rich vegetable since the 5th century. I love to throw kale into a slow cooked curry but not everyone is a fan of the earthy, fibrous texture. This winter pesto recipe softens the flavour slightly and is an incredibly versatile way of delivering a nutritious, flavourful boost amongst all of that seasonal indulgence. Mix with breadcrumbs as a topping for smoked fish, stir through homemade risotto, warm green lentils or even the ubiquitous turkey soup.

The pesto will keep for up to a week in the fridge and freezes well. Or spoon into sterilised jars as a last minute Christmas gift for foodie friends.

 

Ingredients

150g of green curly kale

150g walnut pieces

110g manchego

200ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

The juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation

  1. Strip the leaves of the curly kale away from the tough stalks and rinse thoroughly to remove any hidden grit. Shake off any excess water then tear into smaller pieces.

 

  1. Place the kale leaves into your food processor and blitz. You may need to do this in two batches if you have a small machine like mine. If so, return all of the reduced kale to the food processor before moving onto the next stage.

 

  1. Tip in the walnut pieces and manchego and blitz again. Whilst the food processor is running, slowly pour in the rapeseed oil and lemon juice.

 

  1. Remove the lid and taste your pesto. Season it with salt and pepper if required. Consider the flavour and texture. I like my pesto fairly thick but you may wish to add more oil and/or lemon juice to achieve a thinner consistency. Keep tasting and adding bit by bit until you are happy with the end result.

 

  1. If you are giving the pesto as a gift – spoon into sterilised glass jars and pour a little more of the rapeseed oil over the top to create a seal. Screw the lid on tight.
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