Thursday, September 22, 2011

P Is For Pesto


P is for Pesto, which makes all things palatable--even kale.

I have gone on at length before about the industrial quantities of kale that each year burst forth from a single 4'x4' bed.  I should count myself lucky.  Nutritionists adore kale, richest of all foods in vitamins, minerals, and the moral satisfaction that comes from eating what is good for you.

But, nutritionists aside, I haven't met many people--and nobody under age 35--who like kale.  I haven't even succeeded in talking myself into liking it, not even enhanced with that all-purpose enhancer, bacon.  Not even made into cream soup.  Nothing, not a long boil, or my blender, or my teeth, is able to break down the mighty cellulose in those cell walls.  At best, kale's flavor reminds me of inferior broccoli.  And yet kale keeps on growing, spring through fall, undeterred by frost or wind.

Undeterred by bugs, too.  Squash bugs destroy the squash;  the caterpillars of the white cabbage butterfly devastate the broccoli.  But nothing, not even Japanese beetles, goes near the kale.  What does that tell you?  But I should amend that:  Wolfie and Bisou love kale.  Every afternoon Wolfie breaks off a couple of leaves, gives one to Bisou, and I can hear them out there crunching on the stuff.  I think they think the leaves are a kind of bone.

But my relationship with kale changed the happy day when I heard about kale pesto.  With the help of massive amounts of garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan, kale becomes a barely-there vehicle for those infinitely superior flavors.  A vehicle full of vitamins and yes, moral satisfaction too.  Who says that virtue has to taste bad?


13 comments :

  1. I spoke at a book club the other night, and was dreading it because the hostess told me she would be serving kale soup. YUCK, i thought.

    but it turned out to be delicious--she made it with carrots and sausage and some kind of tiny macaroni, and simmered together even the slippery seaweedy kale was good.

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  2. Wow, pesto...that is awesome...a friend of mine makes kale chips...there are recipes on the web, they sound crunchy and good!

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  3. I grew a very pretty silvery kale this summer, dinosaur kale I think? and it has been happily consumed by lots and lots of pretty silvery caterpillars. I've rescued a few leaves (picking off caterpillars ranging in length from a fingernail paring to a large paperclip), but not enough for the pesto... I have eaten the leaves with garlic, sugar, b.vinegar, and that amazing smokey paprika you gave me; delish!

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  4. Kale chips--I bet those thick cellulose cell walls really help there.

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  5. Alison, maybe I'll make kale chips and send you some.

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  6. There are many varieties of kale. I could be mistaken but from my peeks your garden it looks like you always grow dinosaur kale which is, to my taste, the least palatable as the walls are thicker than other varieties and the flavor less nuanced. Last year I grew a tuscano and a white siberian. The tuscano was particularly delicious - buttery textured and sweet.

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  7. I'll have to find out where you get your kale transplants--you don't grow it from seed, do you?

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  8. Always from seed I'm afraid. generally I start seeds indoors although this year I just sowed them in the ground. If I start my own seedlings I will happily share them with you.

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  9. I should have known. You grind your own pigments, you start your own seeds....

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  10. I love kale chips; I often treat kale like collards when I get it in my CSA box for the week. But this is intriguing. I make basil pesto, the traditional kind, each summer...I've had "weed pesto" which is essentially different edible garden weeds blended with garlic and parmesan and olive oil. It was yummy and mild. And I made garlic scape pesto this summer that knocked my socks off.

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  11. If I ever tried garlic scape pesto, I might give up eating anything else forever.

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  12. I think I've just been growing the wrong kind.

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