Spring Garlic and Kale Pesto

calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--001

Spring has most definitely sprung over here in the gorgeous hills of Sonoma county. Flowers blooming, bees dancing, pollen blowing, vegetables popping, vineyards sprouting and the blue sky above scattered with stunning billowing clouds releasing seasonal showers. Rain storms are pretty frequent up here in northern California which is quite different from where we came from down in southern California. For one, down in LA, locals are majorly affected by a mere sprinkle – unsure of how to calmly go about their days within the challenges of a wet city. Here in farm county, storms are welcomed and happily embraced – grateful to be falling on the abundant fields abound.

This simple perspective on the weather, is just one of the many delightful changes we are all very much enjoying since we moved here to this small country town. In retrospect, it makes sense that a major part of my (city) life was spent impulsively and dramatically reacting to all the emotional storms that blew my way. To those that knew me though, I was not one to show it. Was more of the quiet reflective judgmental type so the rumble would ruminate on the inside to then only be fully expressed when the cork blew off on the outside. I enjoyed the thrill of the craziness though. The more heightened the drama was, the more feisty I got and the more attracted I became to the feelings that pulsed throughout my body.


calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--002

After living in Manhattan for a few years and getting those young adult self-destructive party years outta my system, I began seeking some spiritual assistance in helping me become more conscious. I went full force into yoga, mediation, became a vegan, raw foodist, went to healers, seminars, read new agey books, abstained from all mind altering substances and pretty much lived a solitary nun like existence during nighttime hours. When I was in my yoga or meditating practice I was calm, but as soon as my practice was over any ripple from the outside pond of the city immediately affected me as I didn’t yet know how to blend those two very different realities. I escaped and reacted rather then embraced with awareness.

Through the years, I have thankfully learned some lessons. One of them being that obsessively practicing the “spiritual” made me a bit mad. I became way more neurotic and attached to them which, ironically, is the very thing all those philosophies teach you not to be. I’m sure I was also way too impatient to have my perspective change already!

calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--003

calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--006

What ever it was, isn’t important. What’s important is that – years later – I (finally) learned that I became balanced when I starting enjoying living my life without being so rigid in following all those militant healthy diets and spiritual rules. I am still a feisty bitch though. It’s just one of those traits that is ingrained within – a trait I have most definitely inherited from my very feisty Chicagoan born and breed mother. Love you MA!

I must say, some of my best teachers have been our 2 dogs, being pregnant a few times and having a child. They have all helped me to take a conscious pause of patience without immediately reacting personally to those things that aren’t. Cause the very best thing to do in the presence of a storm, is to remain calm and embrace them with awareness instead of unconsciously fight them. That’s the challenge. Lifelong one. And as the storm of labor rapidly approaches, I can only sit in unknown wonder how I will embrace that one. Woof!

calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--005

calmwithinthestorm--Spring-Pasta-Garlic-Pesto--08

Green Garlic and Kale Pesto

Spring Garlic (also called green garlic) is around for the first few months of Spring. You will see it popping up at your local farmers market now. Some look as big as a leek and others like a scallion. It’s simply just immature garlic. The taste is much more subtle then the mature garlic cloves – reminiscent to a mild green onion. To use: trim off root ends and any tough part of the green stalk then use the whole stalk if tender. You can substitute regular garlic (1 to 2 large cloves) in the pesto if you don’t have any green garlic on hand. Kale is pretty much my favorite green and I love it in a pesto. If you come across any fresh basil yet – throw a handful of fresh leaves into the blender to add to the mix as well. Leftover pesto is also a wonderful spread for a sandwich, add a dollop onto a baked potato, drizzled over some roasted vegetables basically anything you like pesto on – delicious.

2 medium stalks or 4 small fresh green garlic, blanched*
1 medium bunch of kale, tough bottom stalks removed and leaves blanched*
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon, or more to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping TBS soft plain goat cheese
1/4 cups grated pecorino, plus more for topping
1/4 cup pasta water
1 box your favorite whole grain pasta

* blanch the green garlic and the kale in boiling salted water you will be using for the pasta. Blanch the green garlic for about 20 seconds in the boiling water then remove and set aside. Blanch the kale for about a minute in rapidly boiling water.

When greens are cool enough to handle, chop them up and then transfer to a high-speed blender or food processor and add the 1/2 tsp sea salt, pecorino, or parmesan, turn the machine on low and slowly pour in the olive oil. When mixture is smooth, taste, adding more lemon juice or salt if needed.

Make pasta al dente and according to the package. When the pasta is done, before draining reserve 1/4 pasta water. Then add the drained cooked pasta back into the same pot you cooked it in, over a medium flame, mix in 1/2 the pesto with about 1/2 the pasta water.

Bring to a light boil and add more pesto if desired as well as more pasta water depending on how saucy it is and how you like it. Turn flame off and add some more grated cheese, a nice drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Taste, adding more grated pecorino over the top, if desired. Serve.

There are 7 comments

  1. ThriveLiving

    Great post—thank you! I’ve had similar experiences along the ‘spiritual’ and raw food, vegan and vegetarian paths. Luckily, a more balanced middle way is firmly rooted now.

  2. Catherine

    Hi Aria — thanks for your recipes and your posts, I have thoroughly enjoyed following them. I would love it if you could share a vegan pesto recipe with us: I have to be dairy-free and I really miss pesto — one extra challenge is that my son is allergic to nuts so that makes the versions I have found with walnuts off the list for our family. (Sunflower seeds would be fine, though no sesame.) Of course, if I play around and find something I think works I will make sure to share with you.

    1. Aria Alpert Adjani

      Thanks so much Catherine! Have you tried making a pistou? It’s basically just freshly chopped herbs (I like a combo of mostly basil, Italian parsley, a bit of mint), squeeze the juice of a lemon, pressed garlic clove (optional) nice pinch of sea salt (to taste), dash of cayenne, extra-virgin olive oil and a TB of miso paste. Miso adds a lovely briny “cheesy” like taste. Also a TB or so of brewers yeast is good as well instead of the miso. I actually prefer my pesto without the nuts though I do always add cheese. Let me know if you try it and how your version worked!

  3. Catherine

    Definitely going to try your pistou, Aria. Sounds delicious. I actually rooted through my fridge and made a kind of kale-avocado pesto: kale, avocado, olive oil, garlic, lemon, cilantro, jalapeno — and I threw in some sprouted sunflower seeds and sprouted kamut for fun. It was great! I do think that brewer’s yeast or miso would be great, though, to help with the “cheesy” factor…

Leave a Reply