You know when you have absolutely no time or energy for cooking. After a long day, rushing to get the groceries, as you pass the refrigerated isle, almost automatically, without thinking, you grab a tub of pesto. Great! dinner sorted.
No one can deny most of us have those kind of days more often than we would like and pasta, gluten free or not, is a quick, easy and satisfying meal.
Let's not be too hard on ourselves, done right (and not daily) pasta can be part of a balanced and healthy diet.
Also pesto is a much healthier option than a thick Alfredo, a rich carbonara, or a synthetic bumblebee-hued mac and cheese.
And if I tell you that pesto is not that hard or time consuming to make, plus a homemade jar of it is a hundred, more, two hundred times better than the store bought versions you'll be making that for dinner tonight; I hope you do.
Lately I've been adding a tiny bit of kale to my traditional all basil recipe, as the leafy green conveys a wonderful emerald color that, when the pasta is finished, makes it even more appetizing. That's the recipe I'm sharing today.
I like to make it with penne rigate and add green beans cut roughly the same size as the pasta -to trick the eater's eyes- and bring more nutrients to the dish. But any pasta of your choice is fine.
If pasta is not your thing pesto is a super friendly sauce that goes equally well with grilled veggies, as part of a nibble platter, with chicken, spread over crostini... an essential sauce to have in your fridge.
If you can get your hands on pecorino romano substitute half of the parmesan with it for a stronger mesmerizing flavour, but if parmesan is all you have it will still be excellent.
You'll get almost 2 cups of sauce with this recipe. Enough to feed 4 people.
2 packed cups basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed kale leaves, stems removed (baby kale is great for this too)
1 big garlic clove
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts, plus more to serve
1/2 cup grated parmesan (or half parmesan and half pecorino romano), plus more to serve
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon finely grated
a squeeze of lemon juice
1/ tsp salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper
In a food processor pulse basil and kale till roughly chopped. Add garlic clove and toasted cooled pine nuts and pulse again. Add cheese, salt and pepper and lemon zest and pulse to incorporate well. While the motor is still running stream in olive oil slowly to make a smooth paste, stopping to scrape the sides every now and then. Finally add a touch of lemon juice to enhance the flavour and use immediately or transfer to a jar. To keep the bright colour make sure to put a bit of extra olive oil on top to avoid oxidation.