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Swiss Chard Avo Pesto

Swiss Chard Avo Pesto

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Those of you that know me probably know by now that Matt has a nasty nut allergy. When we first starting dating he told me pesto was a-okay to eat because he could handle pine nuts.  So one day I made him a turkey pesto sandwich, sounds good right? Wrong.  He blew up like a balloon.  Turns out Trader Joes sneaks cashews into their pesto (cheaper than pine nuts).  We learned a valuable lesson in reading labels or making things from scratch.  

Years later, I was really craving pesto and had the idea to use an avocado as a base instead of nuts.  So we experimented with our own recipe and it turned out amazing! And frankly, a little healthier.

In the spirit of healthy eating, every two weeks we get a local farm box filled with local, seasonal produce.  You don’t get to pick what ends up in your box, which I like because it forces me to try new things.  If it were up to me, I’d just get strawberries, onion and summer squash.  

This week’s box had a big bunch of colorful Swiss Chard. Chard is a leafy green that is primarily used in Mediterranean cooking.  The flavor is really distinct and can easily be overpowering.  It has a really earthy, almost dirty flavor, even after you’ve washed it and rewashed it.  Chard is packed with nutrients, and is the second most nutritious vegetable next to Spinach.  

The thing I love most about Swiss Chard are the vibrant colors of the stalks, sometimes they’re too pretty to eat! The biggest problem I have with chard is I just really don’t like it that much.  I like to try it in limited quantities.

Scrolling through Pinterest on how to best use up my huge bunch of chard, I can across a recipe for Swiss Chard Pesto, which of course called for nuts.

So I used Matt’s Pesto Recipe but used Chard instead of basil.  This makes for a less traditional pesto flavor, but still has the color, consistency and yummy olive and garlic flavors that pesto has.  Plus it was fresh, homemade and rich with nutrients!  I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Packed Raw Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 1 large, perfectly ripe avocado
  • 2 Lemons, juiced
  • 3 Large peeled Garlic Cloves
  • ½ Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Lime Salt (regular salt is fine too)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

* My Olive Oil and Lemon Lime salt were also locally sourced from Forbidden Fruit Orchard, which is the sister label for the winery I work at!  

Steps

  1. Remove chard stems from leafs.  Save the stems for later!
  2. Finely chop leaves so your food processor can easily handle them
  3. Add all ingredients except for lemon juice to your food processor, you’ll need to add the leaves slowly as they’ll reduce in size
  4. Add lemon juice as more liquid is needed, make sure to taste your pesto along the way to make sure the flavors are balanced!
  5. Run ingredients through food processor until your Pesto is at your desired consistency
  6. Chop the chard stems like celery.  Fry in oil for a pop of colorful garnish.  
  7. Eat RIGHT AWAY.  Everyone knows avocado doesn’t last long :)

Yield: 2 ½  Cups of Pesto (funny that you start with about 8 Cups of ingredients!)

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