Swamp Recipes: Roasted Garlic and Kale Pesto

DSC07158Written by staff member Amanda Gajdosik

I have always been impressed by the strength of greens. How sturdy and hardy they can be. They’ll survive, and even thrive, in fall and early winter. Even in the bitter cold of Wisconsin. And working at Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, I’ve got access to more greens than I know what to do with. Salads are all fine and dandy, but this time of year calls for a dish that matches the changing season. Roasted Garlic and Kale Pesto it is! There’s a depth to this spread that is unlike traditional pesto. Roasting the garlic calms the flavor, bringing out a subtle sweetness, while using kale (quickly blanched to make it more pliable) instead of basil provides warmth – perfect for these cool South Carolina nights. Come to the cafe and grab all of these ingredients to make this recipe on your own.

Roasted Garlic and Kale Pesto

2 heads of garlic
1 bunch kale (I like lacinato (dino) kale. We’ve got some from several different local farms.)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup walnut halves and pieces
2 Tbsp plus ¼ – ½ cup good quality olive oil
salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the tops of the garlic heads, leaving the skins on and cloves exposed. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil over each head and wrap in tinfoil. Roast in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until garlic is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While garlic roasts, prepare the kale. Begin by removing the stems and ribs of the leaves. Roughly chop kale and blanch for 2 – 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain well.

Combine cooled garlic, kale, cheese, and nuts in food processor. Start processor while drizzling in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste.

Uses for pesto:
Pasta sauce
Pizza sauce
Sandwich spread
Added to eggs for a killer omelet or scrambled eggs
Mixed with more olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar for salad dressing
Eaten plain with a spoon