Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cavolo Nero and Almond Pesto

Pesto is great - a really versatile ingredient that can transform the simplest ingredients (such as pasta or toasted bread) into something far greater than the sum of their parts. But for vegetarians and vegans, pesto can be a nightmare, since it's normally made using hard cheeses such as grana padano, which tend to made using calf rennet.

This take on pesto is made with cavolo nero, a member of the kale family that has an almost seasidey taste. I didn't have any pine nuts in when I decided to make this, but I did have some almonds left over from a baking marathon, which is why that went in. The whole point of something like pesto is convenience, so there's no point in being too precious about it - just have a go with what you've got and see what happens.

1 bunch cavolo nero (leaves, not stalks)
1 clove garlic
50g almonds, roughly chopped
good glug of olive oil
handful of fresh coriander
pinch salt and pepper

1. Blanche the cavolo nero for a couple of minutes in salted water, then refresh under cold water. Drain, then squeeze out the excess water by hand.

2. Meanwhile, lightly toast the almonds in a hot overn for about 5 minutes, turning a couple of times. Allow to cool, then blitz in a food processor.

3. Add the cavolo nero, coriander and garlic and blitz again.

4. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and gently mix in.

I served mine with pasta and some grilled chestnuts. You could add some grated cheese to the mixture if you wanted, though it does taste delicious as it is. Enjoy!

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