Kale Pesto

KalePesto

Missing summer pesto? Make this Kale Pesto with lemon, almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and fresh leafy kale. Perfect winter pesto and great with pasta!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Move over basil, kale would like some room at the pesto table!

I recently needed some pesto for a recipe and thought I would pick some up ready made at the market. Oops! I forgot, basil is a warm weather plant, and it and its pesto are hard to find around here in winter.

No problemo. It’s easy enough to make pesto from scratch with kale. Like its basil pesto cousin, kale pesto is terrific with pasta, potatoes, sandwiches, and with any and everything which calls for pesto.

Kale can have its own strong taste, so to balance it we’re adding some lemon zest and lemon juice to the pesto, along with toasted almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil.

Unlike basil pesto, kale pesto doesn’t turn dark right away either. It stays vibrant green for days in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Kale Pesto Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/4 cups

To prep the kale, rinse and pat dry, strip out or cut out the tough inner stem and discard, chop the leaves enough so you can easily measure.

To toast almonds, heat them in a single layer in a small sauté pan on medium high to high heat, stirring occasionally. When the almonds begin to brown remove to a bowl to cool. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes, so keep an eye on them! They can go from lightly toasted to burned quickly.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (packed, 85 g) chopped fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) toasted, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) grated or shredded Parmesan
  • Zest of one lemon (about a teaspoon)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (less or more to taste), minced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method

1 Pulse kale and almonds: Place the chopped fresh kale and toasted almonds in a food processor and pulse several seconds.

2 Add Parmesan, lemon zest, garlic, and pulse again several times. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor and pulse again.

3 Drizzle in olive oil: With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil.

4 Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper: Remove to a storage container, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper, adjusting amounts to taste.

Use mixed in with pasta or rice or as a topping for chicken, beef, or seafood.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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22 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Pat Beck

    Good- great way to use abundance of greens and versatile.

  2. Brittnee

    Can this pesto be frozen?

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  3. Sherri

    At a time when my Kale from last years planting is bolting and I’m desperate to find ways to use it before it gets bitter and woody, this recipe is a life saver. I was thinking that I might have to add fresh herbs to give it some flavour, but tried it as per the recipe first (the plan was to do a number of batches and freeze it if it was good…. well.. it is fantastic just as it is. I was heavier on the garlic (1 extra clove) and it is perfect. You’ve saved the day!

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  4. Steph

    Just received two giant bunches of kale from a friend’s garden. Made three batches of pesto and it came out fantastic. Going to have some tonight with pasta. I always like to finish it with a bit of butter before serving a la Marcella. Thank you Elise. You always come through for me with the recipes. You are amazing.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  5. Renee Mills

    This sounds wonderfully delicious! Whenever I buy kale, I buy a lot. Looking forward to making this next time!

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