Followers of my cooking can confidently say that I love complicated (and spicy) recipes. So, for this collard green pesto I’m keeping things basic. Being of Black American and Italian descent, this combination was made for me. Ha! But really, I’ve always wanted to do more with collard greens other than my usual Sautéed Collard Greens. Something pesto-like was bound to happen.
Ever since I heard of pine mouth syndrome (a horrible side effect from eating tainted pine nuts), I decided no pesto recipe of mine will use pine nuts. Someone I know came down with pine mouth syndrome and it completely ruined the week of her wedding … with a metallic taste overcoming her mouth every time she ate or drank. It was like being force fed pennies. Instead, I feel cashews are a better – and safer – fit for collard greens.
Because collards are not actually an herb, collard green pesto is more successful as a sandwich spread where it can interact with other sandwich fixings. They don’t have a ton of flavor on their own. The herby perfume-like nature of basil pesto makes it enough to stand alone on a plate of pasta. However, I imagine collard green pesto out-performs traditional pesto in nutritional value.
For creative sandwich ideas, be sure to check out my two previous posts about sandwich making Vegetarian Sandwiches and Healthier Club Sandwiches. As a sandwich maker at one of my few actual food service jobs in college, sandwich making kinda stuck with me.
Two important steps in this collard green pesto is removing the stems and blanching the greens. Cooking raw collard greens briefly in salted boiling water removes their natural bitterness, seasons them a bit, and gives them a good natural cleaning. Another reason not to skip this step is because these greens shrink down quite a bit. Blanched, chopped greens will yield a different amount of raw greens. And the stems … they’re just too tough. Save the stems to use in a vegetable stock.
- 3 cups collard greens, blanched and chopped
- 1 cup chopped parsley, firmly packed
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup cashews
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
- To blanch the collard greens, fill two large pots of water half way. Add salt to one and place it on the stove. Add a tray of ice to the other pot and place it on the counter.
- Meanwhile, remove the stems from the collard greens using a paring knife. Roughly chop the stemmed collards into smaller pieces, about 1/4 the size of the leaves.
- In batches, submerge the chopped collards in the boiling water. The water temperature will drop, so bring the water back to a boil and cook the greens for 2 to 3 minutes. Their color should be bright green. Using a fine mesh strainer, transfer the cooked collard greens to the iced water to stop the cooking.
- Finely chop the blanched collards until you have 3 cups.
- Add the grated parmesan, parsley, olive oil, garlic, cashews, salt and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse everything until your desired texture is achieved.
Yield: 3 1/2 cups