I will preface this post by saying that I have never been a big fan of kale. The only way I can describe what I don’t like about it is it it feels & tastes too much like I’m eating something from deep in the jungle. I can’t quite get past the extremely fibrous texture and a slightly bitter earthy flavor. I’ve tried so hard to like it — it’s packed with nutrition and is definitely one of the leafy greens du jour. Food bloggers push the massaged kale salads – I just can’t get into them. I tried hiding it in smoothies but I don’t think the 2 leaves that I successfully mix in without knowing it’s there really counts. I continue to fail at making tasty kale chips. And let’s be honest, I really only like the store-bought ones that have so much added to them that somehow 10 chips is 100 calories (BTW 1 cup of kale is about 30 calories). I don’t think it’s the kale that I actually enjoy there.
As a food lover and future dietitian, I sometimes feel some pressure to like all healthy foods. But, guess what? I don’t. And, I am a firm believer that food should be enjoyed and I don’t believe in forcing myself (or others) to eat food I don’t like just because it’s healthy. I can get the nutrients that are in kale from the rest of my diet (I eat plenty of other dark leafy greens and a plethora of other fruits & veggies).
But, I joined a CSA. And you know what seems to appear in our box every week? Kale. Lots of it. Determined to find a way to use it (since my roommate could only eat so much of it), I knew I needed to get a little more creative.
I remembered seeing this recipe for kale walnut pesto, so I gave it a try. I made 2 batches – 1 as the recipe states, and another with medjool dates (chop 3-4 dates and add them into the food processor with the kale & walnuts, before the oil).
Both were delicious! What I loved about both of these pestos is that they weren’t too rich, as traditional basil with pine nut pesto can be. The dates add a nice slightly sweet accent to the pesto, which went particularly well on the grilled pizza recipe (below).
I’ve been using the pesto in many different dishes – in orzo salad with grilled eggplant and tomatoes, on sandwiches, and on pasta with grilled veggies. Delish! I had planned to freeze some, but it is so good that I am pretty sure I will eat it all before freezing becomes necessary!
I have not completely given up on kale in other forms. Taste buds change and evolve. I learned in my nutrition for the life cycle class that you should have a child try a new food 8-10 times before you know if they like it. I think the same can be said for adults. Hey, I learned to love beets, a food I never thought I’d even tolerate!
Grilled flat bread with kale, walnut & date pesto
- 1/2 lb whole wheat pizza dough (I used 1/2 of the whole foods premade dough)
- 1.5-2 tbsp kale, walnut, date, pesto (this recipe with dates added) – enough for a thing layer.
- 2 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into thin circles (or diced – whatever you prefer)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 oz prosciutto, sliced in to 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil (for grilling pizza dough)
Grilling the dough:The August issue of Bon Apetit had an article about grilled pizza, that inspired me to finally attempt it! It’s been on my list of summer foods to try, but I never quite believed that the pizza dough wouldn’t completely stick to the grill. This method was easy and worked extremely well! The only change I made is I grilled it longer than it says to (about 3-4 minutes each side). You will need to adjust depending on whether you use a gas or charcoal grill.
When the dough is grilled, remove the dough and turn grill down to low. Spread thin layer of the pesto on the grilled dough, top with mozzarella, tomatoes, and prosciutto. Place back on grill and cover for 2-3 minutes (until cheese begins to melt). Remove from grill, top with arugula and enjoy!
Serves 2 as main dish, 4-6 as appetizer
Note: don’t worry about the shape of the flat bread!
Do you like kale? How do you choose to eat it? Have you tried making non-traditional pesto like this one?
- your food and fitness friend