Pounding food into oblivion is a great stress reliever and a socially acceptable way to get out your aggressions. So there is something incredibly satisfying about using a pestle and mortar. It’s also a way to control the process.
Use a food processor or high speed blender and you can end up with a smooth sauce which is great if that’s what you want.
But if you’re looking for something rustic then a pestle and mortar is your new best friend. This lemon-walnut sauce is a riff on a tarator sauce – a blend of nuts, bread and liquid.
I’ve toasted the bread and rubbed it with garlic rather than adding chopped garlic. I think it gives you the garlic flavour without the burn.
I’ve also added both lemon zest and juice. I crave heartier flavours in the autumn but also the lift that acids – in particular lemon – gives to food.
It goes without saying but use a high quality, well-made bread. Instead of walnuts you could use almonds and orange or substitute Swiss chard or cavolo nero for the kale.
Serve this as a side dish, although I’ve topped a bowl full of these greens with a fried egg and happily called it lunch.
Sauteed kale with lemon-walnut sauce
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
1 tsp lemon zest
50g walnuts, toasted
40g sour dough bread, about 1 slice
1 clove garlic
40ml hot water
40ml olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Strip the kale from the ribs. Discard the ribs in your food waste bin and rinse the leaves in cold water. Drain and spin lightly in a salad spinner – you want to remove most of the moisture but not all.
To make the sauce, toast the bread until crispy. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub over all the surfaces of the bread. Discard the garlic clove in the food bin.
Roughly tear the bread and place it in the bowl of a mortar along with the lemon zest and 40g of the toasted walnuts. Chop the remaining walnuts – about four halves – and reserve to use as a garnish.
Using the pestle, crush the bread, nuts and lemon zest together. You’re aiming for a mixture that resembles a rough paste. Add the hot water and pound some more, ensuring that you don’t have any large chunks of bread left.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add salt as needed, then stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will resemble cooked porridge. You should be able to easily spoon it over the greens. If you like something more pourable, add in a bit more water and oil.
Set aside the sauce while you saute the greens. Heat a deep frying pan over medium high heat. Add the kale leaves and a generous sprinkle of salt. Place the lid on and let them steam for a minute or two until they’re beginning to wilt.
Remove the lid, add a splash of olive oil – about a tablespoon, stir and continue to cook. The leaves should be wilted but still have a bit of a bite. Remove the pan from the heat, Place the kale on a serving dish and top with the lemon-walnut sauce and the chopped walnuts.