You know all of those kale recipes? The ones that say to use just the leaves and save the coarse stems for another use? Well friends, this is your “other use”.
The same way I collect stale tortillas for the eventual tortilla soup, I save chopped up bits of kale stems (and sometimes other stems) for this eventual pesto. Tiny little bags, all over my freezer. When I’m ready to make this, I mix them with freshly chopped stems so the whole thing doesn’t taste too “frozen.”
I just love making this in the colder months when bounties of fresh herbs are harder to come by. I added some parsley and a tiny bit of fresh basil that I had to use up, but feel free to play around with what you have.
The idea is from one of my favorite books, Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s all about cooking with what you have, and not wasting food, not even the stems. (Or at least watch her Ted Talk, about “who is a clever chef”…it’s just so inspiring).
- 1 heaping cup chopped kale stems
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts
- big handful of parsley and/or basil
- juice & zest of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- optional - drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- optional - grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Place stem pieces in a small pot and fill it with enough water to cover them halfway up. Toss in the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Simmer until the stems become knife-tender (about 20 minutes).
- Drain and let cool.
- In a food processor, pulse the cooked stems. Add everything else, drizzling in the olive oil at the end. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Feel free to experiment with other types of stems & herbs. Kale stems are just what I happen to have most often. On this particular day, I also had some parsley and a little bit of basil to use up.