I was teaching a pasta class last week and found out a few hours prior that three of my students were vegan. This isn’t a big deal usually since 95% of what I teach is dairy free, but I had planned a cheese sauce for this group. I quickly assessed what I had available to create a new sauce. First I made my Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce, but I wanted a little something vibrant to swirl around that. Collard greens were delivered to me in a food order by mistake just a few days prior- I kept them just because. Could they work in a pesto?? Why not?
Pine nuts didn’t feel like the right flavor component with the greens; a quick search online revealed a recipe with collard greens and pecans, which totally makes sense, but I was out of pecans. So opted for a simple sunflower seed.
Blanching the collard greens help keep the pesto a vibrant green color and break down the enzymes in the greens, making them more bio-digestible. So you could skip this step, but I feel it’s worth it.
This pesto became a little addicting as I found myself chopping up carrot sticks to dip into it. The class gobbled it up (crisis averted!) and now I’m putting collard greens on my grocery list for next week. If you try it, do let me know how it goes.
collard greens pesto
1 bunch collard greens
1 tbls lemon juice & zest
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp aleppo or red pepper flake
~1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Bring a pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Tear the greens off the stem and place them in the boiling water for about 1 minute; use a pair of tongs to pull them out and quickly place them in the ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove from the bowl and squeeze off the excess water.
Add the blanched greens, lemon juice & zest, smashed garlic cloves, sunflower seeds, salt and red pepper flakes to the a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine. With the blender running on low, pour in the olive oil. I prefer a pesto that still has some texture to it versus a smooth paste, blend accordingly, adding additional oil as preferred.
Taste and and adjust salt, lemon or pepper as desired.
Blanching greens helps keep their vibrant green and makes their nutrients more bio-available.