This kale pesto is ready in 5 minutes and surprisingly, does not taste like kale! This pesto works great to add a little boost of greens on pasta, a sandwich, or as a salad dressing.
Pesto is such a great way to add flavor to your pasta; I have shared some creative versions on the blog like mint and pistachio pesto as well as avocado pesto, but this kale pesto might just take the top spot in my heart!
Made with classic pesto ingredients like pine nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic, it swaps the basil out for kale, but you'd barely notice the difference in flavor!
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Reasons you'll ♡ this recipe
- it doesn't really taste like kale (thank you parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice!), so it 'sneaks' some extra kale into your life 😉
- it can be ready in 5 minutes
- you can freeze leftovers, so it's perfect for stocking yo freezer when kale is in season
- kale- you can use any type of kale in this recipe, from curly kale to lacinato kale to baby kale!
- parmesan cheese- I prefer the flavor and texture of freshly grated parmesan in this recipe
- pine nuts- adds flavor and texture to the pesto; feel free to swap with almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or pretty much any nut or seed; toast for added depth of flavor
- olive oil- you can control how thick or thin the pesto gets by adjusting the olive oil. Drizzle it through the chute of the food processor until you get the consistency you'd like.
Step by step directions
1. Pulse kale- Add the kale to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse until the kale is broken down into tiny pieces, as shown in the image above.
TIP- I use and love this food processor
2. Add other ingredients - Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend on the low setting, and drizzle the olive oil through the chute. Scrape the sides and lid of the food processor as needed, and blend for longer.
TIP- You can increase or decrease the olive oil depending on how thin or thick you'd like the pesto to be.
We did not taste any bitterness in this pesto, thanks to the ample amounts of salt, garlic and parmesan cheese. With that being said, you can reduce the bitterness of kale in general by either massaging it until it is softened, or by blanching it in boiling water.
This homemade kale pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can freeze it as well (directions listed below!)
Yes! This is perfectly safe to eat without cooking it.
How to use your pesto
- on pasta- toss it up with some fresh cherry tomatoes and Perfect Grilled Chicken Breast and you've got yourself a delicious summery dinner
- on a sandwich- swap out mayo or other condiments for this kale pesto recipe. It would be great on these Healthy Chicken Quesadillas as well!
- as a salad dressing- use it on pasta salad (I bet it would work well on this Greek Chicken Pasta Salad) or on quinoa salad (like this Charred Corn Salad)
- on pizza- slather it on your pizza base in place of tomato sauce!
- on salmon- smear it over your salmon after cooking. See my fail proof method for How to Cook Salmon here!
Store your kale pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge; you may want to drizzle a little extra olive oil on top of it to keep it fresh and vibrant.
Store for up to 4 days.
Pesto freezes great and this kale pesto is no exception. Here are a few ways you can freeze it:
- ice cube tray- press it into ice cube trays for easy pre-portioned amounts that you can thaw quickly. When frozen solid, transfer to a freezer bag.
- souper cubes- another great way to store it is in ½ cup souper cubes. Kind of like a big ice cube tray! Transfer when frozen to a freezer bag.
- jar- you can freeze the pesto right in a freezer-safe jar; fill no more than ¾ full. Make sure you are freezing in a canning jar that can withstand extreme temperature shifts
More saucy recipes
- 2 cups kale packed firmly; do not include stems; see note 1
- ¼ cup pine nuts see note 2
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ lemon juiced; roughly 1.5 tablespoons
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Pulse kale- Add the kale to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse until the kale is broken down into tiny pieces.
- Add other ingredients - Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend on the low setting, and drizzle the olive oil through the chute. Scrape the sides and lid of the food processor as needed, and blend for longer.
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