Wednesday 15 June 2011

Kale pesto and garden update

The past year has been wet and cold.  Even our summer was noticeably wetter and colder than usual.  I didn't have days of panic when it was so hot that I worried about how our citrus trees would weather the weather.  Now that winter is here, we have the best yield of fruit since we bought the trees three and half years ago.  It is time to take you out to the garden before sharing the kale pesto recipe today.

Even before our citrus trees arrives, we had a fledgling camellia tree that my parents gave to us one Christmas.  This photo is specially for my mum who has watered and pruned and nurtured the tree when she has been here looking after Sylvia.  She was away during most of the flowering of the tree this year but I am sure she would be proud of it.

Our garden doesn't have much in the way of flowers.  I have tended to focus on more utilitarian plants.  Yet I am glad for a little flowering bush to teach me that it is a wonderful feeling to see them bud and open into a burst of colour and beauty.  Here is a close up of one of the camellias. 

As for the citrus trees, I was a bit worried about this earlier in the year.  They seemed to have the lumps that were the sign of the gall wasp.  Apparently it is quite common in our parts.  On the advice of a friend's brother, I brutally pruned the trees.  Even my mother, the queen of pruning, looked askance at my handiwork.

Yes the trees have grown back with lots of healthy green foilage and produced a good amount of fruit for young trees that live in pots.  Though I am not sure if my pruning is the reason why the meyer lemon tree has been a little lopsided and has a bunch of lemons down on one side.

This is our lime tree.  It was the smaller of the two trees when we got them so I have always felt a little more protective of it.  In past years, we have had some baby limes start growing and then drop off the tree.  This year we have had real limes growing.  The only thing that is a bit odd is that they are yellow.  It is a bit confusing with the lemons also being yellow, but once you cut them open it is quite clear if they are lemon or lime.  Nevertheless it is such a joy to have a backyard full of life.

Now it is a terrible thing to confess, but our bounty has stripped me of ideas for cooking wit lemon and lime.  Fruit from the garden is special and demands exceptional recipes.  What to cook!  It is winter so I don't feel like tangy salads and lots of Mexican dishes.  I don't like sweet lemon desserts.  What to cook!

I bought some kale at the market last Friday and decided to finally attempt a kale pesto.  I was originally inspired by this lemon spaghetti on Fitter than Choc.  I especially loved the vegan parmesan that Kayla made with walnuts and nutritional yeast flakes.  I then found a couple of kale pesto recipes.  One had parmesan which I didn't have and the other didn't have enough seasoning.  One used fresh kale and one used boiled kale.  I decided to do my own thing and add some white miso like Kathryn suggested.

I had some pasta that Sylvia had taken a shine to in the supermarket.  It was sort of like a thick and curly-edged fettuccine.  The brand is Divella and the type of pasta is Mafaldine, neither of which I am familiar with.  I loved it.  It held the pesto wonderfully and was quite easy to eat.

I was pleased that Sylvia ate a few pieces with the pesto before it got too much.  Then she reverted to eating plain pasta I had set aside (and when there was no plain pasta left she dragged her chair to where the colander sat and checked for herself).  E and I had some fried broccoli, tomato and chickpeas on top.  I had some leftover chickpeas that Sylvia wasn't eating.  Forgetting the pesto was full of nuts, I threw them in to bump up the protein of the meal.

The following night we had a dinner crisis where I found I didn't have as much to serve as I had thought.  I put aside the soup for lunch and made a mash with the kale pesto (recipe below) that I served with vegie sausages, peas and roasted cherry tomatoes (20 minutes at about 220 C).  It was an equally delicious way to eat the pesto.

I am sending the Pasta with Kale Pesto to Julie of Pictures of All My Princesses for Presto Pasta Nights #217, the event run by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.  I am sending the Cauliflower, potato and kale pesto mash to Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging #288, the event coordinated by Haalo and founded by Kalyn.  Two quick items of note to finish on: hurrah for packham pears being in season and happy Bloomsday tomorrow!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: SHF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
This time two years ago: Pleasing pumpkin muesli slice
This time three years ago: Novel Food 4: Drowned Broccoli
This time four years ago: Guinness Chocolate Cake for Bloomsday

Kale and Walnut Pesto
makes about 1 cup

half a bunch of tuscan kale (mine weighed 150g)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp white miso
juice of half lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove of garlic
makes about a cup

Wash and roughly chop the kale.  Heat olive oil in a large frypan over high heat and fry kale for about 2-3 minutes.  Dry fry the walnuts in a small frypan over a lowish heat for a few minutes or until they smell cooked.  Blitz the walnuts and nutritional yeast in the food processor.  Add kale and remaining ingredients.  Process until smooth.  I actually transferred it to a small blender attachment I have for my hand held blender which made it far smoother.

To cook pasta with kale pesto, cook 250g thick spaghetti or pasta in salted water for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Keep some of the cooking water when draining the pasta.  Return the pasta to the saucepan and stir through a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Gradually add cooking water until you have a good saucy consistency.  I used about 1/2 a cup of water.  Serves 3

Potato, cauliflower and kale pesto mash
serves 3-4

3 fist sized potatoes, chopped
1/4 cauliflower, roughly broken into florets
2 dessertspoons of kale pesto
season with salt, smoked paprika and black pepper
splash of milk
knob of butter

Cook potatoes and cauliflower for 15-20 minutes until soft.  Drain.  Add milk, butter and pesto.  Mash with a potato masher.  Give a good stir and check seasoning.  I added a bit of seasoning because it was too hot to taste it well.  You would probably do well to let cool a bit before adding seasoning but it depends on how hungry you are.

On the Stereo:
Voice in the Sky: the Best of the Moody Blues


  1. Wonderful post! I do envy you your fruit trees. the closest I get to lemons & limes is at the grocery store!

    The pasta looks wonderful and I can't wait to make some kale pesto of my own. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  2. I'll take your excess of lemons and limes! I love tangy desserts! :) Well done growing that beautiful flower, too. It makes me smile :)

  3. your garden is beautiful! I have made spinach and walnut pesto, but kale pesto sounds interesting. Will have to try!

    S @

  4. Wow, what a beautiful garden you have! And the lemons are HUGE! :D

    I so much wish I could get kale here right now, then I would make your pesto immediately (love the addition of miso)! (Unfortunately, you can buy kale only in winter, and only at very few food stores over here. Shouldn't Germany be the home land of kale?!?!?! Climate-wise, etc??? Boo!)

  5. thanks for showing us your little garden :) And kale pesto? I like!

  6. oh wow! everything looks like it's growing beautifully!

  7. They both sound wonderful! And years and years ago before the blog I made a lemon risotto (Nigella recipe) that was really delicious if you're still looking for ideas :) The recipe is easy to find and is all over the internet ;)

  8. Love the kale pesto! I'm always looking for new ways with kale and I think this will be my next. :) I always have to smile when I look at the pics of your garden in winter--looks just like ours in summer!

  9. What a great idea for using citrus (and kale)! And I love your courtyard pots - it's nice to know I'm not alone in my approach to growing things (in my instance, it's 100% pot based, as I only have courtyard space - you may have some other things tucked away too).

  10. All of your plants look like they're doing so well! And that kale pesto sounds delicious! I'd love a big bowl of that pasta.

  11. Thanks Ruth - I do feel lucky to have lemons and limes - though I buy most of my limes at the shops and quite a few lemons too.

    Thanks Hannah - fruit tastes great (though I do wish I enjoyed tangy desserts - they always look good) but it is lovely to just enjoy the flowers

    Thanks Sharan - I don't think I have tried spinach in pesto - have tried peas which is great - but will have to try spinach some time

    Thanks Kath - hard to believe that kale isn't sold on every corner in Germany - I thought it was just the country to have oodles of the stuff

    Thanks Anh - happy for you to peek into my garden

    Thanks Simply Life - it really helps the garden not to have a horridly hot summer

    Thanks Lorraine - lemon in risotto is something I can do - will have to look into it

    Thanks Ricki - you are so lucky if your garden in summer is that healthy - I have had a few summers where I have thought the whole garden will just curl up and die from the heat - though I do wonder at lemons and limes being ripe in winter as I associate them with summer

    Thanks Kari - our backyard is all pots but we have a bit of space in the front where my mum has put in plants that have just grown at some pace. The great thing about pots is being able to move them about to get more shade and/or rain.

    Thanks Joanne - am sure Sylvia would sacrifice her bowl of pesto pasta for you - ha ha!

  12. Kale pesto sounds really good and I love the way you used it.

  13. I am so jealous of your fruit trees! Thanks for submitting to WHB; the recap is now posted :)

  14. First visit to your site. Kale is my favourite green and pesto is my favourite sauce. Putting the 2 together - brilliant!

  15. I love the sound of kale in a pesto!! What a great idea. And also love that the pesto uses walnuts as pine nuts are so expensive. Your lemon and lime trees are so cute! I've heard before that limes are naturally yellow and that they gas them to make them green. Not sure if that's true or not.

  16. Looking at a bunch of kale pesto recipes; trying to decide whether the kale needs to be cooked. I think I've decided it does!


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)