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07 Dec 2017

Kale Pesto With Farmhouse Cheese

The Complete Natural have teamed up with the lovely lads from Currabinny for a 6-part recipe series, highlighting some of the most gorge dairy products and how to use them in some of their favourite recipes. Here, James Kavanagh and William Murray give us the lowdown on their delicious pesto recipe.

When German, Dutch and other European arrivals moved here in the 1960s and 70s, buying up farmland in places like West Cork and Tipperary, they seemingly longed for the quality and range of cheeses they were used to in their countries of origin. At that time, the quality of Irish cheese had dropped significantly with the tumult of two world wars and a war of independence. A poor-quality cheddar type cheese would have been all you could buy in most places. However, thanks to these nostalgic new arrivals, oftentimes with newly bought land and livestock of their own, we now have award winning cheeses made from our high-quality milk. Using old recipes from home, they went about turning the milk into all manner of cheeses, changing and adapting recipes to create truly unique products. Soon Irish farmers with large surpluses of milk found that this new culture of cheese-making was the perfect way to profit off their excess milk.

You can now find Irish farmhouse cheeses which rival and oftentimes are better than continental European cheeses.

The recipe we have included perhaps emphasises this looking to Europe for culinary ideas and then in fact doing a better job of it thanks to our quality home grown ingredients.

This is a truly Irish version of a pesto using the hard Glebe Brethan cheese from County Louth which is one of the finest Irish examples of a gruyere or comté style cheese.


We often feel sorry for curly kale which is far uglier than the more noble and trendy cavelo nero, red Russian or lacinato varieties. It is, however, the kale which we all probably avoided and then slowly embraced as we grew up, pretending to enjoy it raw covered in lemon juice (which was never going to soften the tough curly kale). Kale is wonderfully good for you and in our humble opinion is best eaten cooked except in this one circumstance where is is blitzed with oil, cheese, lemon juice and nuts to create a delicious peppery pesto which brims with goodness and flavour. The addition of wakame seaweed gives the pesto a coastal flavour of salt and sea.

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 60g Curly Kale, stalks removed
  • 30g dried wakame, soaked in water and drained.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 60g cashew nuts
  • 3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • 60g of hard farmhouse cheese such as a Glebe Brethan


  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor and whizz until well combined but not too processed. Add more oil to loosen up the mixture if needed.
  • Add to pasta, soups or dollop atop a cracker.