This kale, garlic scape and walnut pesto is brought to you by my yearly edition of “I got a CSA, but for the first month it’s basically nothing but garlic scapes and leafy greens”.
Not that I have a problem with that, inherently. I love leafy greens. But using up a lot of them in a short timespan can be a challenge. If the end of the week is nearing, I’ll sauté a pound of greens with some shallot and garlic, cook it down with a little soy sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and eat that entire thing for dinner. I’m not kidding. (And I’m happy to post that recipe too, if it interests anyone..). Here was my full CSA share for the week:
Radishes with greens (x2)
I don’t have any plans for the chard yet, but I’ll be pickling the radishes and serving them in a warm collard green salad. I simply sautéed the dino kale; the garlic scapes and curly kale went into this pesto; and I’ve been using the green garlic in place of regular garlic in various applications.
So anyway, a friend of mine recommended garlic scape pesto, and as I was getting ready to make some, I spontaneously decided to add kale to it. I went with walnuts as the base because frankly, I bought a three-pound bag of walnuts at Costco so that’s just the nut that I use in things right now. That being said, their deep flavor is a lovely complement to the brightness of the garlic scapes and lemon, and the slightly bitter tone of the kale. There’s a distinct garlicky flavor to the pesto, but it’s not aggressive or pungent the way that raw garlic cloves are. And most importantly, this pesto delivers a whole lotta umami.
The final destination of this kale, garlic scape and walnut pesto was a gluten-free lasagna, which I filled with homemade cashew cheese as well as more sautéed kale (but the dinosaur variety this time). Yes, my skin is starting to turn green; and no, we are not going to discuss how that GF lasagna turned out.. but no matter. Discovering the pesto recipe was prize enough.
I make my pesto without oil, instead incorporating oil as needed when I go to use the pesto in a recipe. This is a system that works for me, as the pesto already tastes great and is full of healthy fats from walnuts. However, I tested this recipe with olive oil as well, because if you aren’t used to eating oil-free pesto this might taste a little aggressive to you. So in the recipe, I’ve detailed both options.
By the way, I’ve seen a lot of kale pesto recipes that don’t call for blanching the kale first. My belief is that the use of a large quantity of olive oil is what helps to balance the bitter raw kale flavor. Things are a little different here at casa de la Yup, it’s Vegan… plus, as an added bonus, by blanching the kale we drastically reduce its size, allowing us to pack a pretty insane amount of nutrient-packed leafy greens into one batch of pesto. Just make sure to dry that kale really well after blanching it – if you eat leafy greens with any regularity then I highly recommend getting a salad spinner.
And one last recipe note… this is about the worst thing you could make for a date night, because you’ll have garlic breath afterward and bits of kale will get stuck in your teeth. That’s a given. So, make it for yourself, make it for your family or friends… just not for a date. You have been warned.
Kale, Garlic Scape and Walnut Pesto
This kale, garlic scape and walnut pesto is a great way to use up leafy greens! Great anywhere normal pesto is used. Ready in 20 minutes. Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, sugar-free recipe.
- 1 bunch curly kale (approximately 8 oz., but precision is not required), stems removed, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch garlic scapes roughly chopped
- 1 and 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Stir in the chopped kale and cook for approximately 4 minutes, or until the kale has softened and turned bright green. Immediately transfer the kale to a colander and thoroughly rinse it with cold water, then let drain.
- Dry the blanched kale thoroughly, using towels or a salad spinner.
- Add the garlic scapes to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Add the walnuts and continue to pulse until no large pieces of walnuts remain (do not blend completely).
- Add the lemon juice, blanched kale, optional nutritional yeast, and sea salt, and continue to pulse until the kale is finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides and gently stir the mixture as needed.
- If using the olive oil, slowly stream it in while blending. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Leftover pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and also freezes well.
If you don't have garlic scapes, you can try substituting 1 clove of minced garlic.
P.S.: New resource pages on the blog! I’m working on getting my website even more organized and wanted to alert you to a bunch of new stuff that I added.
- Visual recipe index. In addition to my regular recipe index, which has a written list of every recipe on this site, I’ve made a brand new visual recipe index, which lets you visually browse the latest ~12 or so recipes from each main category (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.) all in one place, and guides you to further browsing by all of the tags (like gluten-free, refined sugar-free, or soy-free) and categories I use.
- Reader favorites. If you’re new around here, or just want to browse the Yup, it’s Vegan classics, my popular recipes page is for you. All of my blog’s very most popular recipes are in one gallery there.
- Vegan cooking and eating resources. At the new resources landing page, you can find all of my non-recipe resources for readers. Behind the scenes I’m working on a bunch of new articles for this page, but right now the main things you’ll find there are a guide to vegan dining in Baltimore and my massive list of vegan cookbook mini-reviews (most with links to free recipes from the cookbook around the web). I will consider any and all requests for other helpful resources you’d like to see in this section!
- Blogger resources. I have an also-new blogger resources landing page too. There you’ll find blogging tips and tricks, as well as monthly reports (which I started in April of this year) about how I’m growing my website.