Traditional recipes

Easy kale pesto recipe

Easy kale pesto recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish
  • Sauce

Replace the traditional basil with kale in this quick and easy recipe for kale pesto with plenty of pine nuts and garlic.

4 people made this

IngredientsServes: 12

  • 240ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 800g chopped kale leaves
  • 140g pine nuts
  • 80g grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

MethodPrep:15min ›Ready in:15min

  1. Pour olive oil into the bowl of a food processor and add garlic; pulse until garlic is chopped, about 10 seconds. Add kale to olive oil mixture, working in batches if needed; pulse until evenly blended, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  2. Stir pine nuts and Parmesan cheese into kale mixture and pulse until pesto is smooth; season with salt.

Suggestion:

If desired, squeeze 1 teaspoon lemon juice into the kale mixture.

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  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups kale (leaves firmly packed, preferably baby kale, or no tough stems)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (fresh leaves)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 dash salt (to taste)
  • 1 dash pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup cheese (grated Parmesan)

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 puree or overprocess.


How to Make Kale and Almond Pesto Pasta

One of the best things about pesto is that you can adjust based on what you love or what you have lying around in your pantry. This kale pesto is no different.

In most basil pesto recipes, pine nuts are used. Instead of pine nuts, we love using almonds with the kale. One thing to remember when using nuts, toast them first. Toasting nuts adds so much flavor — it brings the nuts back to life. If you don’t have almonds on hand, walnuts, pecans or even peanuts would be great.

Whenever we cook with kale, we like to give it a good wash. In this case, we also remove any thick stems or ribs as well. Then we add the kale is to boiling water to cook for about 10 minutes.

Once cooked, we drain and squeeze excess water from the kale and add to a food processor along with the toasted almonds, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. After adding oil and pulsing the pesto is the perfect consistency to toss with hot pasta. Although, this pesto would be amazing tossed with cooked vegetables or spread onto toast and served as an appetizer.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Quick and easy baked ziti recipe with fresh spinach, artichokes, and a creamy pesto layer. Jump to the Easy Baked Ziti Recipe.

Recipe updated, originally posted January 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne


Kale Pesto Recipe

This awesome kale pesto is crazy flavorful and a little goes a long way! It’s gloriously freezer-friendly and keeps for about 4 days in the fridge as well.

For this pesto feel free to use parmesan, romano or a parm-romano blend – just whatever you do, grate the cheese fresh for optimal flavor. Packaged parm tends to be seriously lacking!

Because the cheese is naturally salty, I highly suggest adding your salt after the cheese and tasting as you go. (Dive in with some fresh baguette and make a snack of it!) You can start with about 1/4-1/2 tsp and add extra as desired.


Traditional basil pesto originates from Genoa in Italy. In fact, the word "pesto" comes from the past participle of the Genoese word pestâ ("to pound" or "to crush"), because of the way it is prepared. Just like a Spanish romesco recipe, garlic and nuts are combined with olive oil, salt, and other ingredients to make a slightly chunky sauce that can be eaten on anything from pita chips to pasta!

Kale is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it something of a superfood. Since I grow at least two kinds of kale every winter, I am constantly looking for new and different ways to prepare these greens, and I know a lot of people with CSA boxes who have the same dilemma.

This simple sauce is easy to make and tastes great on everything: Serve it as a dip with veggie sticks and chips, eat it with tortilla espanola, put it on grilled fish, spread it on bruschetta, or use it as an all-purpose sauce for pasta, pizza, couscous, quinoa, and more! It also meets a number of different dietary needs if you are having guests over with special dietary requirements. It is completely raw and vegan, making it perfect for parties and potluck dishes.


Can You Freeze Pesto?

The answer is yes! Even a store-bought pesto after opening can be just popped into the freezer right in the jar it came in.

Homemade kale pesto also freezes well. Seal the pesto in an air-tight container. You can also freeze the pesto in portions in an ice cube tray. Once frozen solid, you can remove to a zipper seal bag and then have the ice tray back to use for other uses. This is great if you want to portion out the pesto for things like a sandwich or individual pizzas.

Pesto frozen in these ways should last up to 3 months in your freezer.


  • Use fresh kale to make this recipe. Frozen or wilted kale will leave you with less flavourful and nutritious kale pesto.
  • To make a nut-free kale pesto, substitute the walnuts in this recipe for hemp seeds .
  • Add a handful of basil or cilantro to this pesto if you love the taste of herbs!

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Kale Pesto Pasta

I have so many wild, hopeful goals for the New Year that I don’t even know where to start. But I am so enthusiastic about 2017, and I am trying to put only the best vibes out there. Some people really believe that you get back what you put out into the world. I think I’m one of those people (most of the time), or at least I want to be, if only so that I will continually strive to put optimism and encouragement out there.

I’ve come to accept that I am a wild dreamer. I JUST WANT TO DO EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE, OKAY? But, you mean I can’t travel the world, write a novel, start five business, learn three languages, finally empty my Netflix cue and read all of the books I’ve collected on my shelves (and under my bed) all at once? Yikes.

This year, I want my main focus to be about finding the things that bring me the most joy so that I can spend my energy there. I want to build more relationships in my life. I want to squash my tendency to isolate (by focusing on work), and to fight against insecurities so that I can build deeper relationships.

And to lighten it up a bit…

I want to accomplish so many exciting projects that I have in store for EGFR this year! I wish I could share them all now, but I promise, fun things are in the works.

This is heavy stuff for a post about pesto pasta, but the new year has me feeling all of those hopeful, fresh-start feels. Speaking of fresh starts, some of you may be here searching for healthy, tasty recipes for the New Year. Hey, you’re in the right place, my friend.

Kale + zoodle lovers rejoice for a new way to add both into your life! No matter how my day is going, kale pesto pasta salad (say that 5 times fast) will always make me feel like I am making good life choices.


Easy Vegan Kale Pesto (oil-free)

Is it just me or is pesto one of the best creations on earth?! If you’ve been looking for a healthier, vegan, dairy-free, oil-free pesto, you must try this new easy vegan kale pesto recipe.

Why does this pesto have no oil?

Omitting the oil from pesto makes it much lower in fat and calories. If you’re trying to lose weight or want to eat healthier, you must try this. The best part is that you don’t even realize the oil is missing. Seriously, you’d never know this didn’t have oil because it’s THAT good.

Simple Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Basil
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Almonds (or nut of choice)
  • Garlic
  • Salt

How do you make it?!

All of the ingredients go straight into the food processor, then blend until it’s totally combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. Stir into your favorite pasta and enjoy!

This is a great way to use kale and get your greens in while eating something super delicious.

Josie’s Organics: Why You Should Buy Organic Produce

Why organic?! Josie’s Organics doesn’t use any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their farms. This is so important!

I used the fresh organic kale for my easy vegan kale pesto from Josie’s Organics, an amazing all organic company that grows their produce in the fertile California Valley.

Their family farming business dates back to the 1920’s, when two young Swiss immigrants, Sebastian and Josie Braga decided to start growing beets, tomatoes, onions, hay and corn.

Today, three generations later, the organic family farming tradition is being kept alive! Josie’s Organics harvests over 25 varieties of USDA certified organic veggies.

I love their inspiring story and love supporting them by buying their produce!

If I see Josie’s Organics in the grocery store, I snatch it up real quick because it’s truly such fresh produce. You can find their produce at stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts and many more.

Be sure to look out for Josie’s Organics in your local store! Use their store locator here!

Do I have to use basil?

Yes! Basil gives it that classic pesto flavor while the kale gives it a nutrient dense punch.

What other nuts do you suggest instead of almonds?

You could also use pine nuts, walnuts, or even cashews.

I am allergic to nuts, can I substitute something else?

Sunflower seeds will work if you are allergic to nuts.

How long does this keep in the fridge?

Can I put it in the freezer?

Yes! You can definitely freeze this pesto sauce.

Can I reheat the pasta once it already has the pesto on it?

Definitely – I encourage you to!

Other Options:

Add this pesto to a buddha bowl, drizzle it on a salad, dip some delicious crusty bread into it, or even add onto some crispy potatoes! This easy vegan kale pesto is so versatile – you will be obsessed.

One more tip:

If you make this easy vegan kale pesto and plan to mix it with pasta. Make sure to stir it into the pasta immediately after the pasta strains. You don’t want the pasta to sit in the strainer and get clumped together. It will stir much easier if you mix the pesto into the pasta right after the pasta is strained. This goes for any pasta recipe!

Run to your kitchen to make this!

Rate + Comment

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Ideas to use pesto

Try this pesto on pizza or in these ways:

  • Toss it on warm chickpeas or white beans for a quick warm bean salad.
  • Spread it onto crusty whole grain bread for a delicious toast!
  • Drizzle it over scrambled eggs or an omelet.
  • Add it to pasta with a few toasted walnuts or your favorite lean protein like chicken.
  • Toss it with zoodles for my No-Cook Pesto Zucchini Noodle Salad!