Friday, January 18, 2013

Kids' Kale Pesto

Kale. You've heard the word a million times and have probably noticed it's becoming a buzz word in the world of nutrition for it's "Nutritional Powerhouse" qualities:

.....more iron per calorie than beef
.....filled with cancer fighting antioxidants
.....high in Vitamins C, A, K, and Calcium
.....has anti-inflammatory properties
.....promotes cardiovascular support and liver health
.....full of fiber and very low in calories

AND....it's a dark, green (and rather tough and chewy) leaf with a flavor that resembles, to me at least, a cross between broccoli and cabbage.  

Hmmmmmm. This doesn't exactly evoke the same excitement as when you learned about the benefits of dark chocolate, does it? Yet, I'm guessing I'm not alone in wanting to maximize my family's intake of such beneficial food.....especially in the midst of cold and flu season!

Well, what can you do with this green, leafy veggie besides tossing it in soup?

Enter: Kids' Kale Pesto.  Why do I call it this?  If you are a parent.....you know that oftentimes, kids can be picky eaters.  I typically have 2 of my 4 rebelling against whatever I'm offering for lunch or dinner.  Yet, all 4 of my kids gobbled up the Kale Pesto pasta we made. Hence the name. In fact, my second son proclaimed he likes Kids Kale Pesto better than Macaroni & Cheese!!! (If you know my son at all, you would realize the value of this statement.  Macaroni & Cheese is his all time favorite food.)

There may indeed be some magic in involving your kids in the preparation of meals.  I gave a very short lesson on the health benefits of nutritious foods.....how they are "fuel" for our bodies and "powerful warriors" to fight sickness and disease.  Then, we watched a You Tube video on the benefits of Kale and making Kale Pesto. That was all it took.  They were excited and ready to dive in!

Ingredients: 

1 Medium-Large Bunch of Kale

1/2 Cup Toasted Walnuts

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp (reserved to add at end if needed)

3 Large Shallots (or 5-6 small ones)

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tsp sea salt (or other finishing salt)

1/2 tsp pepper

***
Bring approximately 4-6 quarts of water to a boil.

 Remove skins from garlic and shallots and place into boiling water for about 5 minutes.


Meanwhile, wash Kale thoroughly and trim off tough, fibrous stems, as they have a stronger, bitter flavor to them.
(Note: If you do not own a power blender, such as a Vitamix, you may want to remove the center ribbing of the Kale entirely.)



Lightly toast walnuts in a frying pan over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.



Push all of the Kale into the pot of water.


Make sure it is all immersed in the boiling water.

Boil for 15-20 seconds, or until it begins to wilt. 


 Remove Kale, Garlic, and Shallots from water and place into blender.  
(Note: These do not need to be drained or dried. A little extra water is fine.)

Add remaining ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, walnuts, salt, and pepper).


 Blend until smooth.


 Taste and add additional olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for desired finished consistency and flavor. Toss with your favorite pasta, meat dish, or as a spread for sandwiches or dip for pita and veggies. 
It's also delicious sprinkled with Parmesan cheese for an added dimension of flavor.


Freeze any leftovers in your Flexipan Tray, place in a Glass Lock container, and have perfect pesto portions ready for your next meal!


Enjoy knowing you just fed your family an extremely nutritious and delicious meal!

Inspired by Barbara Mendez at www.rootsandseeds.com 
- a great resource for healthy and delicious recipes!