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Cook the week – Kale pesto

January 30, 2015

Maybe this one should be called ‘not cooking the week’ …and I didn’t even shop for it. While I was away for the weekend communing with nature on Sir Bani Yas Island, KP did my market shop… and photographed it (as a joke) too. Veggie teen was away in Bahrain for Young Musician of the Gulf for most of the week, and there were nights out in the mix. So here’s what we ate from the Farmers’ Market and beyond:

Farmers market veg

Farmers’ market veg pic by KP

Sunset Friday – Oh callous, un-caring Mother I am – I’ve no idea what KP and veggie teen consumed on Friday. I was too busy tucking into my own, provided by Amwaj at Anantara Desert Islands Resort on an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi. After watching a dramatic sunset sitting by a roaring wood fire pit I moved onto the terrace to sample some of the Arabic-style menu. It was too dark to photograph but there was a lovely fresh salad centrepiece (if you’ve eaten Lebanese you’ll know what I mean) muhamarra, sujuk (spicy lamb sausages with peppers), falafel, dajaj mashwi (succulent grilled chicken in slightly spicy marinade) followed by fresh mint tea.

Chilli Saturday – A three and a half hour boring, boring drive even after an exquisite weekend is not conducive to cooking. Rather reluctantly I opened the fridge to contemplate supper and spotted a chilli con carne made earlier by KP. Bliss. All I had to do was rustle up something for veggie teen.  This involved defrosting a bean mixture (I cook and freeze ahead), adding some chilli powder, bay leaf, tomato puree, a bit of Swiss Marigold bouillon powder, passata, fresh coriander and yoghurt on the side (I always overdo the chilli!).

Shepherd’s pie Sunday – Awesome beetroot smoothie for breakfast – just had to mention that. Shepherd’s pie – I know, I know, more mince… but KP requested it.  Served with lightly cooked broad beans plus the beany chilli base leftover with mash on top for veggie teen.

Japanese pizza Monday – KP and I sat on our own eating the remains of the Shepherd’s pie with my attempt at okonomiyaki from this recipe. I used banana shallots (kindly sent to me by Chez Charles) instead of leeks and the sauce from this recipe but wasn’t convinced by either. The pancake was rather dry and the sauce too ketchupy for my tastes. Inspired by this about okonomiyaki I’ll give it another go soon (hope KP isn’t reading this).  I also baked a loaf today but that’s a whole other story to be told next week….

Fishy Tuesday – While the cat’s away, the mice will ….eat fish. Neither of my teens can abide fish and make such a fuss about the smell when I do cook it that I give up. Rather sad to see so much (over-fished) hammour still on the slab at Choitrams. I pan-fried some sea bream fillets and served with crushed potatoes and a cabbage, bacon and shallot mixture (KP approved of this version of cabbage) – all inspired by something in my Nathan Outlaw fish book – leaving out the oysters….naturally!

BBC Good Food Awards Wednesday  – I waved in the direction of a jar of kale pesto in the fridge for KP and trotted out in ‘white hot glam’ (who came up with that dress code?) to Conrad Dubai. Rather distracted by too much chatting and excitement to do justice to the food. There were lots of little nibbles at the cocktail reception but I only managed to pause for breath to taste one ‘macaroni cheese’ raviolo with black truffle from La Serre (delicious) and a beef rib slider from I don’t know who. I try to avoid eating farmed salmon due to sustainability and chemical issues but the starter was dill-cured Scottish salmon with caviar remoulade (lump fish roe) which was just ok and then I found the ‘lemon mi confit’ (it was quite dark in the ballroom!). I couldn’t get enough of this candied lemon which was brilliant with the salmon. One to try making at home. The main was a (slightly overcooked for my tastes) beef fillet with mushroom rillettes rossini, pommes Anna, green beans and Perigord truffle jus – all rather nice although I was nattering like mad to the Sassy Mama gals while eating. The less said about the deconstructed Banoffee the better. Random ingredients more like. When will this craze end?

And how to thank everyone who voted for me so that when they announced food blogger of the year my name was announced? Really overwhelming. I am so massively grateful and humbled. You’ve all been so kind with your messages, tweets, emails and calls too. More to be said about this… and right now I just don’t have the words… but THANK YOU.

Table for one Thursday – KP goes out with some chums (a ‘networking event’ ahem) every last Thursday of the month. It’s called ‘Every Second Tuesday’ – work that one out.  I was all set to make a cauliflower risotto for one and to stay in and have an early night to finish this post, but they invited me to come along. So said cauliflower was abandoned and we sat overlooking the water outside at Left Bank at the Madinat. The boys followed their usual order of sharing the bar snacks – who was I to refuse. We tucked into mini-burgers, calamari, edemame, shrimp and crab cakes, chicken tikki skewers and (not on the menu) chips with curry sauce. The Gavi di Gavi was very easy to drink. Ahem.

So not a good week for using my veg – the sweetcorn, aubergine and cauli will be cooked today (somehow). Houseguest arrives again on Saturday so I better get my cooking mojo on. Oh and veggie teen is going vegan for a month. Just off to buy nutritional yeast, bee pollen and quantities of almonds!

Kale pesto

I tinkered with a few recipes to use up kale last week and made this pesto which is really delicious and bright green. Super versatile you can use it over pasta, as a spread or dip or on little bruschetta. Stir in some creme fraiche or cream cheese if you want it creamier. This does make quite a lot so you could halve the quantities, but it keeps in the fridge with a layer of olive oil over the top. Go easy on the garlic – I used two cloves which was far too strong for KP and passing vampires so I’d advise one only. The bonus is the health benefits of kale too summed up on Well-Being Secrets site.

Kale pesto

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil (I use Astraea)
  • 150ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 175g kale, washed, thicker stalks removed
  • 1 chilli, sliced roughly
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced roughly
  • 60g walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
  • 100g almonds, toasted chopped roughly
  • 100g Parmesan or hard cheese
  • Sea salt and black pepper


Put all the ingredients, in the order listed, into a power blender (I used a Vitamix) and using the plunger thing push down under everything is blended and combined. I haven’t tried using a normal blender but I’m sure it would work, just not be as smooth. If you want to store it, put into an air-tight container with a layer of olive oil on the top. Serving suggestions as above. Vary the nuts if you like – this is what I had in the cupboard – the walnuts take the edge off an all almond pesto which might be too sweet.

More kale inspiration? People with digestive issues might not want to eat raw kale so check out Kellie’s gorgeous recipe here. Crisps are my downfall, so a kale version from Dannii is very welcome.

There are so many food stories to tell that I’m going to move this veg round up to once a month with edited highlights. That way I can slip another fish finger sandwich in without you noticing (joke!). Dubai-dwellers, see you at the market. And to all, have an amazing week.

  1. January 30, 2015 4:54 pm

    Another fantastic week. I love kale pesto. So delicious!



  2. January 30, 2015 5:04 pm

    Huge congratulations on the BBC Food Blogger of the Year Award – richly deserved, you continue to inspire so wallow in the glory for a week or two!

  3. January 30, 2015 7:20 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on your well-deserved award! I’m destined to make kale pesto as I’ve seen a couple of recipes recently. Yours is the most photogenic though – looks delicious!

  4. January 31, 2015 12:09 am

    Food Blogger of the Year!!! Congratulations on a hugely well-deserved win, Sally!! Looks like you’ve been eating well all week. xxx

  5. January 31, 2015 12:48 am

    Congratulations once again Sally. Love:)

  6. January 31, 2015 1:22 am

    Fantastic accolade Sally, well deserved too!

  7. January 31, 2015 1:49 am

    Love the recipe Sally! Can’t believe I have never, ever tried Kale yet…

  8. January 31, 2015 3:54 am

    I am out the door to get everything so it is on the table for dinner tonight. With a big salad. Also will be doing this for casual dinner party, will be a nice table presentation. But I will need another cast iron but who couldn’t use two!!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. January 31, 2015 4:41 am

    Congrats! Well deserved!

  10. January 31, 2015 8:25 am

    Congratulations Sally and I wish you more success in coming years 🙂

  11. January 31, 2015 11:14 am

    Really brilliant news, Sally! I have not been on social media much these days so I missed your tweets. You are definitely one of my favourite bloggers to read and I’m super chuffed to hear that you won. Sounds like it was quite a do as wel – over-cooked beef notwithstanding. And thanks for the wee mention. 🙂

  12. camillal33 permalink
    January 31, 2015 2:47 pm

    wow! looks delicious. I think I’m going to have to try this for myself. thanks for sharing!

  13. January 31, 2015 5:50 pm

    I have got a package of these Swedish crisp breads, now for the dip: Your kale pesto is enticingly wonderful, the colour alone makes me swoon. N xx

  14. January 31, 2015 7:52 pm

    Congratulations Sally! Very exciting.

  15. January 31, 2015 8:16 pm

    A beautiful recipe and huge congratulations on your well deserved win! 😀

  16. January 31, 2015 8:31 pm

    Massive congratulations on the award Sally, very well deserved. The kale pesto is a gorgeous colour.

  17. February 1, 2015 1:13 am

    love this idea!

  18. February 1, 2015 2:41 pm

    Huge congratulations! The bread looks gorgeous. I finally bought a Dutch oven so I will be making some bread soon, too.

  19. February 2, 2015 6:08 pm

    Congratulations once again 😀 And that pesto looks fabulously delicious.

  20. February 2, 2015 9:24 pm

    Congratulations on your award! I’ve never tried kale pesto before, but it looks great (and I will probably stick to one garlic clove, as you advised).

  21. February 3, 2015 3:22 am

    Congratulations on your win! Great news, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    Veggie teen is going vegan for a month- wpow, good luck!

    Oh that green kale peso-it looks so smooth! X

  22. February 3, 2015 1:29 pm

    Great recipe – I made kale pesto last week for the first tine but added anchoivies and apple cider vinegar as well to give it a health kick – did’nt include water but will next time after aeeing how smooth yours is!

  23. ramblingtart permalink
    February 3, 2015 2:52 pm

    Congratulations!!! 🙂 You make such beautiful and delicious food. 🙂

  24. February 4, 2015 7:27 am

    I’m just catching up on your news – congratulations! Very pleased for you 🙂

  25. March 19, 2015 4:45 pm

    I really need to try this, I’m seeing different kale pesto recipes everywhere recently… very intrigued! 😉


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