This is a new recipe, modified from one I found on the very cool blog Eating Rules. I tried it out with pasta for lunch today with my friend Kate. We decided it was a winner.
1/2 cup walnuts, roasted
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted (or 4-5 pieces of jarred roasted red peppers)
3 tbsp olive oil
2-4 large cloves garlic, roasted
4 cups packed green kale (about 1/2 bunch)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To roast the garlic: Peel the outermost layers of a large garlic bulb and wash the bulb. Place on a square of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until very soft. Save the rest of the roasted garlic for another recipe, or spread it on bread and eat it up with your dinner! You can skip this step and use fresh garlic, but your pesto will be much more strongly garlic flavored with a bite. Roasting mellows it a lot.
To roast the walnuts: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spread the nuts evenly in a small pan, like a cake or pie pan. Roast until the nuts look a bit oily and are very aromatic, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To roast the pepper: Place it directly on top of a high flame on the stove and let it cook for a few minutes. You’ll hear it crackle as the skin begins to char. Use metal kitchen tongs to turn the pepper as each side chars. It should be mostly, but not completely black. Then place the pepper in a ziploc and let steam for at least 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Cut the pepper into a few pieces and remove the white membranes and seeds. Set aside.
Wash, dry, and remove any tough stems from the kale.
In a food processor, make the pesto by blending the kale with the roasted pecans, roasted pepper, and roasted garlic. Once it’s smooth, gradually pour in the olive oil and blend until it’s fully incorporated. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve on pasta I used about 2/3s of this batch of pesto and 1/2 cup warmed chicken stock to toss with my cooked spaghetti. I added diced fresh tomatoes, and red pepper flakes (I find there are few recipes not improved by red pepper!), added more salt and pepper, and served with parmesan. This made about 4 servings. I froze the rest in cubes. I think they’ll be a great addition to a soup or sauce for potatoes or cauliflower. Since there is no cheese in this pesto, it is not at all sticky.