Busy Holiday Nights: Easy Flavor Enchancers

December 05,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

A week ago Sunday, 60 Minutes had a piece on the company and scientists who develop flavors for our foods.  It was eye opening to see what sort of chemicals and compounds go into our food to make them seemingly addictive, so we crave more of whatever we are consuming.  

I have three recipes for easy natural flavor enhancers this week.  All are a breeze to make, but can transform a simple meal into a gourmet delight.  There recipes will be perfect for this time of the year, when you may be called upon to whip up a meal in short order.

The first recipe today is for Kale Basil Pesto.  Pesto is traditionally made with basil and some other great ingredients.  I had the idea to add kale to increase the healhtfulness of the pesto, and no one could tell the difference.  But by all means, feel free to make this recipe with all basil too!

Kale Basil Pesto

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup kale, packed
½ cup walnuts
dash of salt
1 ½ cups basil, packed
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons water

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the kale, walnut and dash of salt and saute for about 4-5 minutes, or until the kale begins to wilt a bit.  Remove from heat.

In a food processor, add the kale mixture, along with the basil, and process until well ground.  Add the cheese, salt and pepper, and process again.

Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons water and process.  Add additional oil and water, if necessary, until the pesto has reached the desired consistency.  Scrape sides between processing to help aid proper mixing.

Serve over pasta with vegetables and a protein, if desired, for an easy peasy meal!



Makes about 1 ½ cups pesto.

Added bonus:  it’s green (add some red peppers or tomatoes for a very Christmas-y dish!).

Life is sweet,
SPC