Summer is rolling right along. Lazy days, fun days, and days filled with activity and travel. It's peak season at the Farmer's Markets all around the Valley and home gardens are bursting at the seams! And oh baby, its been hot here in the Napa Valley! What's your favorite way to cool down as the temperatures rise? A quick swim, a tall glass of ice cold spring water, a frosty peach shrub, a cold shower, a ride on the Ferry, a chilled just-right Pinot Gris or will nothing less than a big scoop of creamy chai-spiced gelato do? I say, "yes"! to all of the above! OK, maybe not all at the same time!
And when dinnertime comes around, as it inevitably does every evening, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours at the stovetop. Good news: It's easy to be creative and stay cool at the same time! That's when I take a walk through the garden to gather my greens and make good use of the food processor for an easy answer to a flavorful pesto.
With a nod to my Southern roots – Collard Greens are everywhere there! – and out of necessity – the garden is overproducing!, a kale and collard combination for pesto is a fun alternative to the more traditional flavors! Toss it together with your pasta of choice or top off a bowl of last-night's quinoa with a few shavings of summer squash, fresh greens and an 8-minute egg ... add a few fresh Sungold cherry tomatoes – another overachiever in the garden(!) - and it’s time to ring the dinner bell!
Kale and Collard Greens Pesto
4 medium-sized collard green leaves, stems removed
5-6 medium-sized Lacinato kale leaves, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 oz. grated Pecorino, about ¾ cup grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ cup, lightly roasted walnuts
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Dash chili flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Place collard greens and kale into the water and let simmer until they are just wilted and bright green – less than a minute. Transfer quickly to a bowl of ice water (to stop the cooking and help maintain color). Drain and press out as much liquid as possible.
Coarsely chop the greens and set aside. Place garlic in a food processor to chop roughly. Add the walnuts and pulse a few times. Add a few greens and pulse until the garlic and walnuts are finely chopped. Add remaining greens, Pecorino, oil, lemon zest and juice. Process until well mixed but a slight coarseness remains.
Season with chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste. To store, place in a glass jar. Drizzle olive oil on top and then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of pesto before sealing jar. Refrigerate.