Kale + Garlic Scape Pesto
There are as many pestos as there are chefs and home cooks. The most ubiquitous is made, of course, with basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan. But almost any green and any nut/seed combo can be turned into pesto with the addition of olive oil, parmesan, and garlic. (Just watch how many pesto recipes we offer this summer).
This pesto is a little nuttier in flavor than the basil version thanks to both the kale and a healthy helping of pistachio nuts. It's delicious.
And the bonus of using a green that's not basil? The pesto retains a gorgeous green color even once added to warm pasta.
This ingredient list is meant to give you a sense of how much of each ingredient you should have on hand to make a perfectly delightful pesto for a pound of pasta + more leftover for a few sandwich smears. But it's a good idea to have a bit extra of everything so that you can play with the taste until it meets your preference.
6 oz. pistachios, shelled. (The weight was taken pre-shelling)
6-7 scapes, divided
¼ c parmesan, shaved or grated
10 good-sized kale leaves, middle ribs removed
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1 tsp honey (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper, add to taste
Pesto is a sauce for pasta that really ought to be made to the cook's taste. Some cooks like a smooth pesto (more oil, more processing), while some like it chunky (less oil, less processing). Some like it sharper (loads of fresh raw garlic or scapes). Some like it mellower (blanch the scape tips for 20 seconds. . . but retain the ends raw to amp of the spice if you like). So adjust and taste. And then adjust and taste.
But this is exactly what we did for the pesto pictured above:
Place de-ribbed kale leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Have a bowl of ice water nearby to transfer the blanched kale leaves to, to suspend further cooking. We transferred the kale from boiling to iced water using tongs, so that we could reuse the boiling water to blanch the tips of the scapes (from an inch just behind the pale green bulb to the end of the pointy tip). Drain kale and spread it out loosely on a clean dish towel to dry a bit.
Cut scape tips (as described above) from long ends. Reserve scape ends. Blanch tips for 20 seconds. Remove from boiling water, run under cold water and place in food processor. Add pistachios and parmesan cheese and process until scapes are chopped and pistachio looks like chunky sand. Add kale leaves and half of the olive oil and process until the kale is chopped small but still recognizable as teeny bits of leaf.
These are all of the basic ingredients for pesto, so this is when you start adding stuff and tasting and adjusting. We used the full amount of lemon juice and honey and the remaining olive oil.
We also added three of the reserved long scape ends for a bit more bite. Then salted and peppered a little at a time until it tasted how we liked.
Then we mixed it into freshly boiled farfalle and ate all of it.