The weather is seriously gorgeous at the moment. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the itch of pollen in my eyes and throat. Spring has sprung with a vengeance here and I’m loving every minute of it.
Tending to my garden at this time of year is always a bit of a double-edged sword. There is so much to look forward to, but also much work to be done. This will be my third summer at this house and I am approaching it with cautionary optimism. I am conscious that I tried to do too much last year and things got out of hand, instead of enjoying my garden it felt like a burden with seemingly endless watering and maintenance. This year I’m going to limit the number of ‘things’ I’m planting to stuff that will actually get eaten. I’m hoping (again) for that bumper crop of tomatoes, a good crop of zucchini and lots and lots of basil. Everything else I think I can safely get from the farmers market. This being said, I have a few strawberries in that look promising, an eggplant from last year that seems to be reshooting, a couple of chillis that never say die and a few kale plants that keep on keeping on.
It’s a little overwhelming walking out into a garden that has largely been neglected these past few months. There are weeds everywhere, some plants are overgrown and others are holding on for dear life. We’re also facing the prospect of having to cut down the mammoth gum tree in the back corner because of an uncomfortably large crack and some unwelcome visitors in the form of termites. Taking out the tree could mean some serious damage being done to the garden, we’ve had a couple of arborists in and when I’ve naively asked whether my garden can be saved the best they can do is promise to ‘try their best’. Sigh.
Still, there are worse things that could happening – the termites could be in the house or the tree could have dropped a limb on the house, for example. With this in play though I’m reluctant to go too hard with much more than building and improving the soil, clearing weeds and helping along what’s already doing well. Kale is one of those things that’s doing really well at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it, but this year I’ve had a really good run with it. Chucked it in the ground and let it do its thing, without much more than the occasional feed with seaweed solution. With the change of season approaching, I gave all plants a good prune, cutting back 30-40% of the leaves, coupled with a good feed of cow manure and compost. With the pruned leaves I made this sensational kale pesto, adding in some parsley and dill (which were also in need of a prune) for good measure.
Kale can be on the bitter side, especially if you’ve picked up the bigger, more leathery leaves. I’ve tried to balance that bitterness with a little honey here, but you can certainly skip that step if you prefer (or replace with a little agave if you’re vegan). As you can see from the pics, I served this stirred through risoni pasta with a dob of goats curd and a cup of frozen peas. The vibrancy of this pesto is awesome and provides an immediate boost – just in time for the warmer weather.
- ½ bunch of kale, thick ends removed and roughly chopped
- a handful of dill
- a handful of parsley
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tbspns rice bran oil (or similar)
- ¼ cup of almonds
- 2 cloves of garlic, skins removed and roughly chopped
- ½ tspn honey (*optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- For risoni pasta:
- 1 veg stock cube
- ¼ cup risoni pasta
- 2 tbspns kale pesto
- 1 tbspn goats curd
- 1 cup frozen peas
- salt & pepper to taste
- Add the kale, dill and parsley to the bowl of your food processor.
- With the motor running add the oil and lemon juice.
- Once the leaves have started to break down add the almonds, garlic and honey.
- Blend for a couple of minutes until creamy.
- Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, wizz again and then taste.
- Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- To make risoni pasta:
- Bring a small saucepan half-filled with water to the boil.
- Add the stock cube and pasta and cook according to packet directions.
- Approx two minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the cooking water.
- Drain and return to the pot.
- Add pesto and goats curd and mix well.