Kale Pesto

Pesto is most often made with basil, but other leafy greens and herbs can also make very interesting pestos.  Kale pesto is great, because you can make it during the winter months, when fresh basil isn’t exactly a readily available commodity.  Toss this with hot pasta, and a little of the cooking water from the pasta (to thin it into a sauce), or stir it into rice or risotto. You can keep it covered in the fridge for several days.

What Kind of Kale to Use in Kale Pesto

If you are using mature kale, make sure to cut out any thick rubs and stems, which could give the pesto a coarse or woody consistency. Keep in mind that the kale is uncooked, so the more tender the leaves the better. Baby kale is great because the leaves and the stems are tender, and you can just throw the whole leav into the blender or food processor.

Kale Pesto

Nut Optional Kale Pesto

This is a nut-free pesto, but if you want to add ¼ to ½ cup pine nuts or any other nut to this when you add the kale, go right ahead. Traditional pesto has nuts (most commonly pine nuts, but sometimes other nuts like walnuts), but because I’m allergic, I always leave them out. You don’t have to though!

A clever (and easy!) kale pesto recipe that you can make when there’s no basil in sight!

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Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto Tips and Uses

  • If you want a looser pesto add more olive oil—you’ll probably want to add more oil if you are tossing the pesto with pasta.
  • There are loads of ways to put kale pesto to use: tossing it with pasta, natch, but also for crostini, spread on top of a toasted piece of bread brushed with olive oil, then maybe topped with mozzarella or goat cheese; as a sandwich or wrap spread; or mixed with plain Greek yogurt, crème fraîche or sour cream as a dip. Click here for lots of other ideas and recipe for using pesto!
  • A Kale Pesto and Goat Cheese Omelet
  • Try other hard grating cheeses instead of the Parmesan, like Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano.
Standing Rib Roast with Kale Pesto and Loaded Hasselback Potato

Other Kale Recipes:

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Kale Pesto Recipe

No basil? No problem! You can still have pesto (in 5 minutes!) – and with all the nutritional benefits of kale.
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups firmly packed kale leaves preferably baby kale, or remove any tough stems
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • Place the garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree to chop the garlic. Add the kale and the parsley and pulse until the greens are finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil with the motor running. Season with salt and pepper, then pulse in the Parmesan cheese, but do not let the motor run and overprocess.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 57mg | Potassium: 108mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2016IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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