Its another pesto recipe!
Why? Because pesto is a boss way of getting superfoods into your daily eating routine and meals. Pesto can be used as a dip or spread, or in recipes like pasta, pizza, salad, rice etc you name it. (Here is a cool list I found on Top Inspired, of recipe ideas using pesto, just to get you inspired.)
Also, the oil, salt and vinegar in pesto can act as a good mellowing agent for the strong, pungent and sometimes bitter elements of herbs and other superfood greens like kale.
Before I get to how to debitter your pesto, I just want to say this. Bitter is usually a word in cooking which spells undesired – but there is a magic to bitterness in greens! And the idea is not to get rid of it, but simply mask and smooth it.
Health Benefits of Bitter Greens
Bitter greens are known to be detoxifying and cleansing, and packed with minerals and vitamins. Not only can they clean the blood, cells and digestive system, but they can also cleanse and balance the palate. Which in turn can dramatically reduce food cravings for harmful substances. Bitter greens have been shown to have a supportive effect on the liver, can reduce risk of cancer, assist weight loss, and can have a stabilizing and balancing effect on hormonal health.
One of my favorite of these benefits is the palate cleaning. If one’s palate is clean and clear and your taste buds are operating properly, then healthy plant based foods are more than tasty enough. And then we don’t need things like MSG! Unless of course it is in the case of things like chinese restaurant rice. And if that is the case, then I have this solution for you.
What’s not to like? Well, the mouth puckering bitterness perhaps. Let’s take a look at some tricks to mask kale’s beautiful bitterness in this pesto : ).
Tricks to De-Bitter Greens
There are three main things which can decrease bitterness from greens. These are:
- Bicarbonate of soda
How to Use these Tricks to De-bitter Your Kale Pesto
If you interested in making some kale pesto – then chances are you want to enjoy the health benefits of consuming it raw. So option 1 of cooking the pesto is out. If however you really can not eat bitter foods, then what you can do is blanch your kale leaves briefly in hot water. This might take some of the bitterness out. However it will also take away the live enzymes in the kale leaves and much of the C and B vitamins.
Pesto recipes automatically contain oil. However you cannot increase it exponentially, otherwise you will have a pesto which is made up mostly of oil. You can however make sure that you use enough oil to ensure that the pesto is of a runny consistency. If the ratio of kale to oil is so high that the pesto is ‘stodgy’ then you should definitely add more oil, for texture and to balance out bitterness.
Pesto usually also contains vinegars or lemon juice. Unlike the oil, this amount you can increase somewhat to help mask the bitterness of the kale. In this recipe I have bumped the vinegar amount up to 9 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Adding Bicarbonate of Soda
Bicarbonate of soda is an effective de-bitterer. However do not use too much, as you do not want your pesto (or any other recipe with greens in it) to taste strongly of bicarb!
In this recipe I use one teaspoon, but you could increase this by small increments if you have a very bitter bunch of kale on your hands.
How to Make Pesto Vegan
And the last point I thought should address, is why this pesto is vegan. Most pestos are made with parmesan cheese as an ingredient in them. The parmesan is not crucial to pesto. However without it, the taste can be a little flat. A great substitute for parmesan cheese when making vegan pesto, is nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast can have a cheesy, nutty flavor – and is also full of B vitamins. Yum!
So, all you need to do is ditch the parmesan and add in nutritional yeast.
By the way, I am thinking of trying to grow my own nutritional yeast. Has anybody tried this? If I am successful, I promise I will put my process in a blog post!
But for now, let’s make kale pesto : D. x
De-Bittered Vegan Kale PestoPrint This
- 150 grams fresh kale
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 9 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 handful of marjoram, parsley or basil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
- De-rib the kale leaves and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves.
- Next add all ingredients except for the sunflower seeds to your food processor. You can also use a blender stick like I do.
- Process until the mix is fairly smooth. You do not want to see any of the fibres of the kale sticking out of the surface of the pesto.
- Now add in the sunflower seeds and pulse a few times. I like to stop processing while there are still some sunflower seeds ‘chunks’ left. You can also process until smooth if your prefer this.
- Once done, taste the pesto and up the salt or pepper amount if needs be. You can also add in a little extra olive oil if you find that the pesto is not thin enough.
- Store in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator and use within approximately 2 weeks.
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