An easy Kale Pesto recipe. Stir it into pasta, spread it on pizza, or mix it with mayo for sandwiches. It's ready in 5 minutes or less, and it's delicious.
Use Kale Pesto for my favorite Pesto Cavatappi (a Noodles & Co. copycat recipe), Pesto-roasted chicken, or Pesto cheese bread. Or, eat it on spaghetti squash, layer it into your next lasagna, or stir it into hummus. See more Italian recipes here.
What is kale pesto made of?
This kale pesto recipe contains:
- Kale. Curly, red, baby, Tuscan (aka Dinosaur or Lacinato) with stems removed.
- Basil. Fresh, fragrant, lovely basil.
- Pine Nuts. Bonus points if you toast them.
- Garlic. You can roast it if you want a mellow flavor.
- Olive oil.
- Parmesan cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano is great if you can swing it. If not, that's okay too.
- Salt and pepper.
It's pretty close to traditional Genovese pesto. I just added kale!
How to make Kale Pesto:
- First, pulse the pine nuts and garlic together. You want to make sure the garlic is finely chopped so you don't have huge chunks lost in the mix.
- Next, add the kale, basil, and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Last, drizzle in the olive oil with motor running. Do this carefully and don't let the motor run too long (see below: How can I make kale pesto less bitter?). Season to taste with s&p.
How can you make kale pesto less bitter?
In this instance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Make sure you pulse the pine nuts, garlic, kale, basil and Parmesan cheese FIRST, really well. Then, add the olive oil and only blend until JUST combined.
According to Cook's Illustrated, polyphenols get squeezed out of olive oil if it's blended too much. So, do the hard work first, then just drizzle in the olive oil. You could even mix it in by hand, if you're worried about bitterness.
Extra cheese and pine nuts can help combat the bitter flavor, too.
How long does kale pesto last?
Use this kale pesto within in a week. Or, refrigerate it up to 3 months.
How to freeze kale pesto:
In a freezer-safe container, drizzle a layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto (be sure to leave enough room for expansion). Then, cover and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Ideas for cooking with pesto:
- Pesto Cavatappi (pasta with pesto-cream sauce)
- Roasted Chicken (rubbed with pesto before roasting)
- Cheese bread (layer of pesto and topped with cheese)
- Grilled shrimp brushed with pesto at the end
- Poached chicken served with pesto dipping sauce
- Vegetable Lasagna with pesto added to the ricotta cheese
- Caprese Chicken finished with a dollop of pesto
Kale Pesto Recipe
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 3 cups kale stems removed, tightly packed
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a food processor or blender, combine pine nuts and garlic and pulse until finely chopped, about 10 pulses.
- Add kale, basil, and Parmesan cheese and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend just until combined (do not over-mix). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to an airtight container. Press a small piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pesto to prevent it from browning, or drizzle lightly with olive oil and tilt jar to coat the top of the pesto with the oil. Refrigerate until ready to use or freeze for up to 2 months.