Thursday, 7 February 2013

A different kind of pesto

Why not make a creative pesto with kale or savoy cabbage.
No doubt: Italian cuisine is maybe one of the best in the world, but I find many Italian restaurants and famous TV chefs are too focussed on the traditional recipes, and this can get kind of boring after a while. Luckily, my friend Jenny who lives in Canberra provides me with the original Australian version of the Donna Hay Magazine. I find great inspirations in her creative style cooking. My problem, however, is to find some of the ingredients the Australian chef calls for. As astonishing as this might seem to anyone living in Sydney, Toronto, L.A. or New York City it is hard to come by dried seaweed, shiitake mushrooms and peanut oil in rural north eastern Italy. I even went to the local market in Venice a few times where you can buy the loveliest and freshest fish as well as local fruits and vegetables, but I still could not cross out "lemongrass" and "thai basil" from my shopping list.
Whenever I find a recipe in the in the magazine that calls for common Italian ingredients I give it a shot.  I made Donna Hay's kale pesto a few months ago and it was delicious. Last weekend, I was thinking about it again. I had all the ingredients at home, except for the kale. Too lazy to drive around looking for it, I used savoy cabbage instead and liked the pesto even more than the kale version.
Here is the recipe of my savoy cabbage and almond pesto (adapted from Donna Hay's kale and almond pesto). You will need:

2 cups of blanched savoy cabbage leaves (remove big stems)
1 cup fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup of toasted almonds
2 red chillies
1/3 cup grated Grana Padano (Donna Hay suggests Manchego cheese)
1/2 cup olive oil and some extra for drizzling the almonds.

Cook the savoy cabbage for less than a minute, that way it retains its great colour.
Heat a pot of salted water (sea salt) and once it boils add your washed savoy cabbage leaves. I cut off the hard stems, but leave in the little ones. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, strain and let all the remaining water evaporate (this is very important). I usually do not only cook the 2 cups of cabbage that the recipe calls for but the whole thing. Whatever I do not use, I serve as a side vegetable. For a side dish just drizzle some olive oil and lemon over it. Can be enjoyed cold or hot.

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C. Place almonds, chillies and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until almonds are golden brown. Watch out, because from one second to the next, your almonds can burn. Let cool for a minute, then deseed the chillies. Place chillies, almonds and garlic in a food processor then add the kale, parsley and cheese, process until roughly chopped then add your olive oil and stir gently.

Donna Hay suggests to serve roast chicken and pesto together with some veggies or potatoes. When I told my boyfriend V. I would prepare some chicken for him he could eat with the pesto he just frowned. "Chicken and pesto? That's not Italian. I will have some pasta with the pesto, thanks." Italians, eh?! What can I say?

Vegan tip: Just leave out the Grana Padano cheese or, if you prefer, substitute with soy cheese or sheese and you have a fantastic Vegan pesto.

Storage tip: Your pesto will be good in the fridge for a week or even ten days. Put it in a glass and pour some olive oil on top, this will keep the pesto from drying.

When processing your ingredients, make sure not to overdo it.

No comments:

Post a Comment