Jade (Basil-Kale) Pesto & Dip

September 28, 2012

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I recently met a young woman in her early twenties while I was on a business trip. She was cute and bubbly and very self-assured and she struck up a non-stop conversation as she served us our lunch. She was full of helpful tips (“be sure to eat the skin on that acorn squash, the skins have all the vitamins!”) and information (“I put vitamin C oil on my face every night – you should, too – it keeps the wrinkles away!”). She approved of our lunch selections, and at first, all of her admonishing and unasked for advice seemed charming.

When the owner sent us a pumpkin bread pudding dessert “on the house,” I commented that it smelled great but that I was gluten-free and unfortunately would not be eating it. Our server flipped her hair and looked directly at me and told me that she did not believe in that nonsense and that there was nothing to it but hype; that “all of a sudden” everyone was gluten-free for no reason. I began to tell her that being gluten-free was real and critical to the health and well-being of a lot of people, especially those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease. She did not care to listen or learn, she looked at me and walked away as I began to explain, closed-minded and preferring to keep to her particular views of the world.

I had to simply smile to myself. I think I was fairly closed at her age, when I believed I knew best. I was definitely pretty ‘black and white’ about issues and people. There was very little room for gray in my life then. I’m forever grateful that as the years passed, I softened.

Similarly to how jade cannot be carved into and is more “eroded into” with an abrasive, such was my own learning path, my own softening. Many teachers (in the most unusual guises!) and growth opportunities have come my way. Over those years – slowly, slowly – they pushed at my Ego, challenging me to surrender into different possibilities and ways of seeing people and circumstances.

I’m still a work-in-progress. However, I can honestly say that I try to remember to be an open-minded learner, to view people and situations through many lenses of compassion, to ask good questions and to weigh new knowledge with respect and possibility. And like an intricate jade carving, I have many layers of dark and light in my life. Nuances and open spaces. “Life” has polished me and continues to, striving to remove imperfections so I can better serve.

Jade (Basil-Kale) Pesto & Dip

I love the deep favors of this pesto. And that it is a nut-free/ gluten-free option for people who might usually steer clear of pestos. Feel free to thin it out with water, or additional oil, to reach your desired consistency.

This makes a great appetizer when spread onto small toast rounds (I cut them out of gluten-free bread with a cookie cutter and toast in the oven until crisp, it’s a healthy dip for vegetables and it’s delicious mixed into just-cooked pasta so the favors melt right in. I enjoy it “sandwiched” between slices of  juicy, ripe tomatoes or even a dollop atop one thick slice of perfect tomato as an opening to a dinner party. It also adds a punch of flavor when stirred into hearty vegetable soups or steamed veggies. I love it folded into mashed sweet potatoes. You could also mix in some chopped, juicy tomatoes and serve it as a bruschetta! So many yum possibilities!


1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 cups packed dinosaur kale leaves that have been torn into smaller pieces

½ cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds

1 garlic clove, minced (start with 1 and add another at the end if desired)

1/3 cup olive oil, or more to taste

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

How to make Basil-Kale Pesto & Dip:

Place the basil and kale leaves into a food processor or a blender.

In a medium skillet, lightly toast the sunflower seeds on medium heat; remove from heat and sprinkle over the greens in the processor bowl.

Add in the garlic and process until mixture is finely chopped. You will need to stop the machine several times throughout this recipe to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

With machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Process this mixture until it’s almost smooth but still retains some texture.

Remove to a bowl and mix in the tahini. Taste for seasoning, adding in more salt and/or an additional clove of minced garlic if desired.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.




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