I’m not gonna lie. The conception of this dish resulted from me trying to be totally cheap. Basil is usually overpriced, and lasts for, like, a freakin’ day. I get stressed when I have basil in my fridge. I’m serious. Oh, and heaven knows why pine nuts are 50 bucks a pound. Were they harvested by an endangered genus of sparrow who delicately extract them with their dainty beaks from the cones of old growth pine trees on the summit of some deserted mountaintop? Even Costco can’t give you much of a break on this one. But pesto is an amazing, beautiful, luscious thing, and sometimes you’ve just gotta have it. So you bite the bullet and spend the money on the ingredients, and it’s usually worth it. But it doesn’t always need to be such an expensive undertaking. As a way to avoid spending 30 dollars to make something fresh and fast, I looked to other ingredients. After experimenting with a few different greens and nuts, I concocted this. It’s a darker, more savory, and slightly bitter pesto that’s a little heartier than its basil-y sibling. Oh, and it’s way cheaper to make.
Eat your greens, kids.
Chard and Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups green chard leaves, stems removed, torn, and tightly packed
- ⅓ cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper to taste
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, cheese, and chili flakes together until smooth. Add the chard leaves and blend. Pour the oil in through the top slowly and steady to help emulsify. Blend everything until completely smooth. Taste test for salt and pepper then adjust accordingly. Toss with pasta and serve.
Yields enough pesto to coat an entire batch of everyday pasta, or 12 ounces of dry pasta.
Serves 4, or 2 for two meals