Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pesto 101

 Triple Green Power Pesto Bruschetta Pizza            

 Swiss Chard, Kale & Spinach Pesto w Roasted Garlic & White Beans
Somehow the month of February became “pesto” month at the Delaney’s it is just so funny because I talked about making pesto for months (maybe even a year or more you know how quickly time passes us by ;-), I just remember looking at it in the grocery store and seeing the fat content and the CHEESE and thinking it was just something that we wouldn’t/couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t have been more wrong now with an educated vegan eye pesto is not only EASY to make at home it is vegan and the possibilities are… endless and it is packed with fibre, iron, antioxidants, calcium and protein.  To date I have now made 4 variations of pesto and last night proved to be the winner.

It all started with this bunch of swiss chard that I bought (I had to start somewhere) I starred at it for 2 days in the fridge wondering what I was going to do with it so I started reading about it learning that it is not only a super food it is ranked the 2nd healthiest food (next to spinach) then it came to me… “swiss chard + spinach pesto” so pesto was born into our kitchen this was batch number one it was fantastic, we tweaked things and decided to do the exact same thing with kale it was also delish, naturally our third batch was swiss chard, kale + spinach almost perfection except celery root… you maybe thinking what?! So in my cooking I try to elimated salt all together I know that it is essential for flavouring and so on so I heard from a dear friend that celery root acts as a natural salt in cooking so I decided this was the perfect addition to our final pesto tasting… and it sure was you would honestly think there was salt in it, it completed the flavour in a perfectly babyized way.  So I look forward to using celery root to replace salt in all kinds of soups and sauces now… I am not sure how long it will keep for so we have grated it all up and froze it in ice cube trays so we can pop it out as a salt replacer in almost anything (except baking I am not sure how that would fly in cookies haha).

Before we get to the recipe why eat kale or swiss chard?

Kale is often a vegetable that people are intimidated by or they don’t even know what it is or what it looks like.  Kale is nutrient dense packed with more calcium then a glass of cow’s milk and more easily absorbed, it is also high in folic acid important for child rearing years, and it may increase milk supply in breast feeding mothers.  You want to select kale that is firm and crisp like not brown or wilted, you can store in a plastic bag in refrigerator it is best used up within a few days of purchase.  Most people don’t like the “chewy” like texture of kale, but it can easily be used chopped as parsley, added to salads or steamed, pureed, frozen and added to ANYTHING – smoothies, tomatos sauces, chilli (I did this a few weeks back and you wouldn’t even know), I can mix a cube of kale into any of Julia’s purees without a second thought.

How does swiss chard add up to Kale?

Swiss chard is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine, it comes in green and red (we have tried both) and is ranked the second nutrient dense food following spinach.  High in vitamin K, A & C (vitamin C is important as it helps maximize the absorption of iron).  It has a great taste raw and we have found it to add a nice crunch to our spinach salads.

After trying each in a solo pesto with spinach it became obvious that they all must be married into one pesto...

 So here you have it…Triple Green Power Pesto Brushetta Pizza

Swiss Chard, Kale & Spinach Pesto w Roasted Garlic & White Beans

2 cups of spinach
6 cups of kale, chopped
8 cups of swiss chard (green or red), chopped
1 cup of fresh basil, chopped (when fresh from garden I would use 2 cups)
1 roasted garlic bulb
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of toasted walnuts (or nut of choice we did use toasted cashews for the kale pesto)
1 ½ cups of white beans cooked fresh or a can well rinsed
½ cup grated celery root (salt replacer)
Fresh juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup of olive oil + 2 Tbsp for sauté + drizzle on garlic
Fresh ground pepper to taste

1)      Take one bulb of garlic, slice the top off, set in a tin foil bed (see photo) drizzle with olive oil and a few sprinkles of parsley, roast in oven @ 350F for 35-45 min, until golden brown (you can even roast this a day ahead to save time)

2)      Rinse, chop and prepare all your greens (swiss chard, kale and spinach), dice onion and peal and grate celery root (pictured below).

3)      Saute onion & garlic over medium heat in a large skillet with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, once softened add basil, celery root and garlic until fragrant.  Add swiss chard and kale, cover with lid steam over medium heat for about 10min until softened and cooked down add spinach cover steam for 2-3min, stir in white beans and walnuts until warm.

4)      Remove from heat put in food processor add lemon juice, olive oil and fresh ground pepper, pulse until desired texture and presto you have PESTO 

5)      Serve as desired featured here is with brushetta pizza, we also served over pasta with a side of roasted red peppers, zuchinni and crimini mushrooms – both are delish but the brushetta pizza was our favourite.

6)      You may store in fridge for 3 days, freeze in ice cube trays for baby (over 12 months because of walnuts and later if you have a family history of nut allergies), or freeze in a container or ziploc bag for an easy meal (we have enough pesto in the freezer now for a few months haha)


3 medium tomatos, diced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of coarse sea salt (optional we didn’t use this)
1 Tbsp of olive oil (we omitted this as we were having it with the pesto)

 1)      Chop and prepare tomatoes, basil, garlic and onion in a small bowl stir in balsamic vinegar and set aside in refrigerator until ready to use – doesn’t keep well so you want to use all in the same day.

Hub*’s Basil Infused Pizza Crust

1 cup whole wheat flour + ½ cup to add as needed
1 tsp of dried basil
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 ¼ tsp of yeast (we used quick rise)
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup of very warm water

1)      Combine flour, basil and olive oil in a bowl
2)      Mix up warm water, sugar and yeast, add to flour stir until mixed the knead the dough with your hands for a few min on a floured surface adding additional flour as needed so dough is not sticky
3)      Place in a bowl, cover with a clean towel and place in a bag allow to rise 15min (unless you are using regular yeast then it will be longer follow instructions on the jar) - this is the dough after it rose (I forgot a picture before oppsie!!)
 4)      Dough should be double size after it has rose, work out the air and smooth onto you pizza pan or stone (we need to get a pizza stone), place in the oven 425F x 10-12 min
5)      Pull crust out lightly brush with 1-2Tbsp of olive oil, top with pesto and your brushetta mix, turn oven down to 350F bake until warmed through about 5-10min
6)      Slice and serve with a side spinach and swiss chard salad and maybe a glass of red wine… unless of course you  are serving to your toddler formula will be option of choice J

This is a very labour intensive meal, preparing the pesto a day ahead or having ready made in the freezer will make for a quicker dinner, but this is a perfect Saturday night dinner when you may have a little extra time in the kitchen… we are officially pestooooo’d out for a few weeks any way.

Enjoy your Sunday!!

Mark and Jessica

(my husband was a huge contributor to the photos and preparation of this meal so I need to give him credit)

We have one tiny slice of pizza for Julia to try at lunch… she has been loving her pesto with quinoa or pasta and pureed red peppers… time for a little mix up sans bruschetta, it is so fun watching her taste buds blossom she had brussel sprouts yesterday with parsnips and it was heaven and earth she couldn’t get enough… she has just learned to "roar" like a lion so she thought that it would be cute to take a picture of a lion from her puzzle haha :-)

Coming up next the long anticipated DIY Baby Food part #2… we have a busy day in the kitchen re-stocking veggie purees… 

This was the Devine Classic P-Nutty Fudge that I made for dessert last night... recipe to come!


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