August 10, 2012

Kale Pesto (Pasta)

With a husband that isn't too fond of red sauce (why!?) and my own personal affection for pasta, pesto is a natural favorite. I've always enjoyed pesto but I never really loved it, that is until I tried making it with kale instead of basil. It might sound questionable, but oh my is it delicious! Earthy, bright, personally I far prefer it to the basil and pine nut variety, but let me know if you disagree.

Kale Pesto: I've had this recipe scribbled on an index card for a few years now, adapting it over time. I don't actually know where I first saw it but please let me know if you are the kale pesto original!

*This makes a good amount of pesto (enough for about 2lbs of pasta). I usually freeze half without the cheese for a future meal.
  • one large bunch (about 12 oz) kale, coarsely chopped including stems (hurray!)
  • 1/4 c pecans
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the pecans (dry), stirring constantly until they are fragrant and beginning to brown. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

When the water boils add 1 tbs salt and the chopped kale. Cook about 10 minutes until tender, then drain.

In a food processor, pulse the garlic and toasted nuts until just combined. Add the kale and blend. Pour the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube as the mixture is blending.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the remaining last 1/2 tsp of salt.

*If you are planning on freezing half of the mixture set it aside now before adding the cheese and mix in the cheese after thawing. Otherwise proceed.

Mix in the shredded parmesan cheese. (*Half if you've frozen half of course.)

I like to serve this pesto over pasta and fresh veggies, tomatoes and sliced red onions this time of year since that's what's in the garden but almost anything will do.

This is wonderful warm or room temperature and is usually my staple for pot-luck dinner, a great way to mix up a pasta salad. Of course Little Smith had to give it a try...

... And honestly this one wasn't his favorite. He did eat most of it but with some protest, I guess that kale is a tough sell. That's okay, the bigger Smith's like this enough to polish it off in no time.

I have also made this with collards, chard and even beet greens, kale has the best flavor but all of them are quite tasty. Give it a try, I think you'll be surprised by the deliciousness of kale pesto.


  1. Yum Lilly...I have just sown kale seed so in time I will try this! I adore pesto with pasta and I like your idea of using pecans nuts too. Normally in our part of the world garlic would be harvested in October through to December :)

  2. Oh yum. I make "pesto" out of anything green (kale, spinach, italian parsley, and yes lots of basil) with garlic and pine nuts (have even substitute almonds in a pinch). Great for little fingers and as a way to introduce new flavors. Love your blog.

  3. Yummy!! This is definitely getting forwarded to the chef in our family-- looks delicious!!

  4. I was waiting for your recipe post, and it didn't disappoint! I love pesto, and I've used basil, arugala and spinach, but never thought to use kale. It looks devine. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This sounds delicious. I would love to try making it. I don't think my kids will eat it though. I would have been surprised if you said Little Smith liked it. At least he ate some though!

  6. This sounds so much more awesome than basil pesto. I am definitely going to be giving this a try soon. Thanks for posting!

  7. Yes! I have all of these ingredients! And I absolutely love anything with kale, so this is a must-try for us. Thanks for sharing. And your tomatoes looks great!

  8. cool! what a great idea!! looks super yummy.