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Kale Chestnut Pesto

I love Costco. I find things there I cannot find anywhere else. This past weekend I discovered these shelled chestnut meats. I was euphoric. I loved roasted chestnuts as a girl – in fact the last time I ate them I was probably a tween.  The fact that all I have to do is open the bag is almost sinful. No prickly outer casing to get past and no shell to score and roast off. Just the sweet meats to eat as is or heat up by roasting, boiling or heaven forbid, microwaving. I cannot tell you how excited I am to open this bag!!

Your basic pesto recipe is a compilation of fresh green herbs, nuts and cheese – usually Parmesan, pine nuts and basil. There are many variations. After tasting the deliciousness of one of these chestnuts I thought a pesto was in order, but horror of horrors, I was OUT OF BASIL. Nope, no basil, no cilantro, no flat leaf parsley — it was a disaster. Until I realized while standing agape with the fridge door open, I have this lovely fresh Kale! Eureka! Kale and chestnut pesto sans cheese though, since I am currently a no dairy zone. Bragg Nutritional Yeast to the rescue… seriously, if you have never tried it, please do. It cheeses up everything you put it on. There are other brands of Nutritional Yeast or Nooch as it is called, but I have not tried them myself as yet. If you have, any recommendations would be appreciated.

I measured out a cup of chestnut meats into a pie plate with a dash of sea salt and roasted them in the oven for roughly twenty minutes. I tossed them in the Ninja with a double handful of fresh kale leaves, with the woody stems removed. On top of that I used three cloves of garlic, but you could use less if you are not the garlic freak I am.Toss in some olive oil, white wine and lemon juice then spin it down. The lemon juice helps tame the tougher kale leaves. Next I seasoned it with a little more salt only this time I used some smoked volcanic salt I picked up in Hawaii, a couple grinds of cracked black pepper, nutritional yeast instead of cheese and a dash of cayenne because sweet loves heat or is that the other way around? In any case, the chestnuts are sweet so I thought a dash of cayenne was the thing, and I was right!

Now you could be patient and let those flavors develop in a closed container in the fridge over night, or you could do what I did and use it immediately on some raw zucchini noodles, but it would be delicious on cooked pasta as well. I paired the pesto zoodles with a lovely pan seared Wild Caught Salmon. That fragrantly delicious pesto just sang with that salmon. I am thinking I might make this again and serve it on the salmon. You could serve it on crackers as an hors d’oeuvre or toss it with your white sauce for a livelier Alfredo. Stuff ravioli with it or just use it as is to cook on fish, etc. you get the idea. This stuff is outrageously good and so versatile, as any pesto can be!

 

The perfect bite was one with a piece of the tender, flaky salmon with some of the Pesto infused raw zucchini. Wash it down with some of that Chardonnay you used to make it and you are golden!

  • 1 C Chestnut Meats
  • Double handful Kale Leaves, stems removed
  • ½ C olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T Dry White Wine (Chardonnay)
  • 3 T Bragg Nutritional Yeast
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ tsp. Smoked Sea Salt or regular Sea Salt (use more if needed)
  • Pinch Cayenne
  • 2-3 grinds of Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Spread nut meats out in a baking dish and lightly salt them. Roast in a 350º F oven for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Pace a nice double handful of kale leaves into the processor bowl. Add chestnuts, garlic, lemon juice, oil and wine. Season with smoked salt, fresh cracked black pepper and a dash or two of cayenne pepper
  3. Process down and add nutritional yeast and blend until the pesto reaches the desired consistency of slightly chunky or smooth. Add extra oil and/or another splash of wine to thin if necessary.

Enjoy!

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