Friday, July 8, 2011

Grow It & They Will Eat!

This year, Seneca from WeFarm America built an amazing garden for us behind The Kids' Table. I took my struggling picky eater Aleks out back to harvest the rampantly growing kale. After snipping off a few leaves, Aleks asked if kale is edible. Once he got the thumbs-up, he took small bites, which progressively got bigger and bigger. He even nibbled on the stem! Aleks decided that he likes raw kale - and that it tastes a bit like broccoli.

Most kid
s (Aleks included) would not munch on raw kale if you put it on their plate at lunch time. But seeing it growing out of the dirt and getting to snip those leaves off somehow turned kale into an exciting adventure. You can grow things at home in window boxes, small pots, old yogurt cups or even shoe boxes. And if you're thinking bigger scale, call Seneca to get you started -

With the kale we brought home, we decided to try our hand at Kale Pesto. It was quite delicious! The basic recipe follows, but we made some substitutions the second time around based on what we had on hand and it turned out equally great. In addition to kale, we threw in some rainbow chard and broccoli leaves. Spinach and beet greens would make great additions too! We had garlic scapes on hand, so we used two of those instead of garlic cloves. We substituted ground chia seeds for the ground flaxseed as well. My older son, Jacob, commented that I always have to change something.... And I told him it's good to be able to roll with the punches and work with what you got!

3 1/2 oz t
orn kale leaves
1/2 oz basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 lemon wedges
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil, divided

Put kale, basil, garlic, cheese, sunflower seeds and ground flaxseed in the bowl of your food processor. Squeeze juice from lemon
wedges over the mixture. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse food processor until mixture is finely chopped. Scrape sides if necessary. With the food processor on, add remaining 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary. Toss with cooked pasta (along with a little reserved pasta water to help the pesto coat) and pass around a little extra grated cheese. This also works great as a sandwich spread.

Makes about 1 cup. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage.

What Aleks did:
  • Washed, stemmed and tore greens and basil
  • Chopped (with close supervision!) garlic scapes
  • Grated cheese (also with me very close by)
  • Squeezed lemon wedges
  • Measured out seeds, salt and olive oil
  • Pulsed food processor

Aleks munched on raw greens and garlic scapes while he worked. He tasted the pesto to help adjust seasoning. He opted to eat his pasta plain. But Jacob and I woofed it down!

Happy growing, cooking and eating!

1 comment:

  1. More kale please!

    I love it. Elena, your recipes are fantastic. Thank you for refining over the last 11 years. And the garden idea works well. Good thing you get so much sun at the back of the Kids' Table. Perhaps it's time to get Seneca to expand the garden!!