Collard Green Olive Pesto

This is one for those of you who don’t like pesto because the flavor is too strong and for those of you who don’t like collards because the taste is too bitter.  This recipe mellows them both into a wonderful, creamy pesto.  And for those of you who avoid pesto because of a pinenut allergy (or an allergy to the cost of pinenuts!), this is for you too.  No pine nuts at all.  Really worth checking out!

Boiling the collards for 15 minutes takes the bitterness out and leaves the bright green color in.  The recipe says to boil and drain the collards first and chop them later.  I recommend the reverse.  Collards are much easier to chop raw and you’re taking the stems out anyway so you might was well chop as you go.  No need to boil in batches though.  Just get a big pot and do them all at once.  The original recipe calls for brine-cured green olives. I had pimento stuffed green olives brined in vermouth.  Close enough.  I saw in the comments that most people left out the water.  When I mixed up all the other ingredients it seemed a little thick to me, but I didn’t want to dilute the flavor, which was already a little mild.  I decided to use the olive brine to punch up the flavor and smooth out the texture.  Perfect.

This is wicked good stuff.  My guess is that it will be terrific on whole wheat pasta.  The nutty flavor of the pasta will be a nice balance to the salty pesto.  I also plan to mix it into cream cheese and serve it with crackers.  And maybe mixed into roasted tomatoes for a completely different kind of pasta sauce.  It holds its pretty green color better than the basil pestos I’ve made so I think it will look nice whenever I get around to serving it.  Right now it’s in the freezer.  Half the batch in a Ziploc bag for when I need a lot and half in an ice cube tray for when I just need a little.

So that’s one ingredient down in my quest to use up the stuff in the fridge.  And an excellent use indeed.

Good? Good in its just made form.  Hoping its just as good when I have it for dinner!
Easy? Sure. Just a food processor.
Good for company? We’ll see!
Special shopping? Nope.

Collard Green Olive Pesto


1 3/4 lb collard greens
10-12 large pimento stuffed green olives2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 cup olive brine
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)


Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems and center ribs from collard greens and discard. Coarsely chop collards. Stir collards into water in batches, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer collards with tongs to a colander to drain, gently pressing on greens to extract excess water. (If making pasta, reserve water in pot for cooking pasta.)

Blend olives and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add collards, water, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. Add cheese and pulse to combine. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream.

Freeze any pesto you won’t be using in 3-4 days.


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