Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Bruschetta with Kale Pesto & Mozzarella

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I grill all-year round. Sometimes voluntarily, other times not. Working for food magazines means developing and testing recipes about six months ahead of time. I often make Thanksgiving dinner in April, beef stew in July, Easter ham in October and summertime food in the winter. (Yes, it turns the whole idea of eating seasonally and locally on its head – big time!)

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While efforts are made to develop recipes for the grill before winter really sets in, it doesn’t always pan out that way.  Last week I was asked to test some grilling recipes right after we got walloped with a couple of early winter snow storms. That meant digging out the grills and hoping for a little thaw. Luckily both my husband and Mother Nature chipped in to help me out.

I don’t really mind eating a turkey dinner in the spring, but I do object to rich, heavy stews and gratins in August (not to mention how unpleasant a hot oven on a sweltering day can be). And a cobbler with peaches from as far away as Chile in December isn’t exactly eating local. The one exception for me when it comes to out-of-season cooking is grilling. Grilled foods taste great to me any time of year. If the weather is at all cooperative, I don’t hesitate to light up my grill.

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This bruschetta recipe features smoky, garlic-scented bread that has been charred on the grill topped with an earthy, slightly bitter kale pesto and creamy mozzarella cheese – a flavor combination that’s hard to beat. For me, it’s the perfect marriage of seasons.

Kale pesto is a delicious alternative to the standard basil pesto. It has a brassy, more assertive and bolder flavor than the basil variety, but can be used in the same way. I like to use it on pizzas and pastas or swirl it into a creamy potato or white bean soup. In this recipe, I swap the pine nuts for walnuts and use Pecorino instead of Parmesan – both have stronger flavors that are well-matched to the big flavor of kale.

P.S.This delicious Italian appetizer requires all of four minutes of grill time, so get out there and fire it up!

 

 

 

 

Kale Pesto Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Because kale leaves are considerably tougher than basil leaves, it helps to blanch them before blending with the other ingredients. This will tenderize them for puree, and also make the pesto a brilliant, emerald green.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 bunch of kale, about 5 cups stemmed and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 6 slices of crusty Italian bread, sliced about ¾ inch thick
  • 6 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 thick slices

Instructions

  1. Toast the walnuts in a skillet (without any oil) set over medium heat and shake the pan occasionally to prevent scorching, until they begin to darken slightly. Remove from pan and let cool.
  2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add a teaspoon salt and kale. Blanch until wilted, about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain kale into colander and then immediately plunge into ice water. When kale is cool, drain again and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  3. Process kale, toasted walnuts, Pecorino cheese, 6 tablespoons oil, minced garlic and lemon zest in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Clean and oil cooking grate. Grill bread over hot fire until lightly charred and toasted, about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Brush bread with the remaining olive oil and rub with the peeled garlic. Place a slice of cheese on the bread and top it off with a spoonful of the pesto. Add a drizzle of olive oil and cut on the bias for smaller portions, if desired. Serve.
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Ck
December 29th, 2013 at 1:25 am

Sounds yummy can’t wait to try it!

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