I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am a sucker for a green sauce — a harissa, a salsa verde, a chimichurri or a pesto. I love the idea of greens and herbs all pulsated into a delicious puree. Unfortunately though, I find store bought pesto to be a very bland. But it’s so easy to make pesto, that there really isn’t much of an excuse not to just throw it together yourself. It’s a great way to use up some spinach, kale or basil that may be on it’s last legs. The other day I had some baby kale (much daintier and lighter than most other varieties of kale) which was a day or so past it’s prime. It was definitely not salad worthy anymore. I also had a whole bunch of beautiful fresh basil. I had pesto on my brain from a few weeks prior when, during my cooking class, we made a Ramp Pesto (blanching the greens and all) which was out of this world. Ramps are a rare wild leek type vegetable which tastes like a mix between a green onion and garlic. I couldn’t get my hands on any ramps but because they bear a resemblance to green onions, I was inspired to throw some green onions in my pesto for that little oniony kick.
I blanched the kale for just a few minutes to lessen that raw earthy taste that is so predominant in kale. And then I tossed in the rest of the ingredients into my food processor and combined until I got a nice pesto consistency. I added a few tablespoons of pesto and some parmesan cheese to my traditional turkey burger mixture and a bit of pesto into some mayo for a nice flavorful spread and we had a delicious twist on the regular burger. My kids had not had pesto before so I made them each take a lick of pesto off of my finger (only a Mom!) and tell me if they wanted it in and/or on their burger or not. Somewhat to my surprise, both girls loved the pesto flavor and wanted to pesto burgers like Mom and Dad. They also wanted to start dipping pretzels in it which I allowed for a minute until I realized they were about to go through my entire container of freshly made pesto. Neither daughter likes mayo but they both wanted an extra spread of pesto on their hamburger bun to increase the flavor of the burger. There’s nothing like having another creative burger recipe in your back pocket. Speaking of, if you haven’t tried my Balsamic Glazed Burgers with Warm Goat Cheese Spread, do yourself a favor and do so immediately. Let the grilling begin….
*I wanted to use up the pesto the next night so I blistered some cherry tomatoes and chopped green onions in my cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then mixed the pesto with some angel hair pasta, added the grape tomatoes and green onion mixture and topped with some freshly grated parmesan and chopped kalamata olives. Simple, easy, delicious. You’ve got to love getting two meals out of one special ingredient!
Kale Basil Pesto (Makes appx 6-8 oz) and Pesto Turkey Burgers (Serves 4)
Kale Basil Pesto
6-10 oz baby kale or green leaf kale, roughly chopped (or sub spinach)
1 bunch basil (or about 20-25 leaves)
2 green onions, white and green parts, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup pine nuts
dash red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
Pesto Turkey Burgers:
1.5 lbs ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Kale Basil Pesto
1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Pesto Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo + 1 Tbsp Kale Basil Pesto
toppings: mozzerella or provolone cheese, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, pesto mayo
Kale Basil Pesto: Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add kale for about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water. In food processor combine kale, basil, green onions, garlic, salt, 1/2 of the lemon juice, pine nuts and dash of red pepper flakes. Pulse on low until combined. Continue on low while adding the olive oil. Taste and adjust as needed. If you like it lemony you will want to add the rest of the lemon juice. Combine until smooth. Refrigerate. Good for up to 3 days.
Pesto Turkey Burgers: In large bow, mix together by hand ground turkey through parmesan cheese. Form into four hamburger patties. Grill over medium heat (about 400 degrees) approximately 6 minutes per side. Top with mozzarella or provolone cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and pesto mayo (my kids hate mayo so I topped their burgers with just a thin layer of the pesto).