Recipe: Killer Kale Pesto

There’s just something about the promise of Spring.

Oh heavens!

The sun came out yesterday, and it seems, decided to stay for a while (the forecast is clear for at least another day).

Insert multiple smiley face emoticons here!!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

– Helen Keller

It’s safe to say it’s been a (very) welcome change and the views of the twinkling snow capped mountains are particularly breathtaking. Yesterday was the day that I just knew spring had come knocking here in these parts:

  • the larks have come singing
  • the daylight has come to linger for a (just a little) while longer
  • I nearly injured myself in my hustle to peel my boots and thick tights off to get outside.

Craving the fresh air and the outdoors after work, I hurled myself outside to enjoy the remaining glorious daylight, the bustle of activity around the park, and the smiles and quips of the many who were of the same mind as me.

Oh happy day, the larks were still singing too!

Of course in my excitement, I under-dressed as it was still finger-numbingly cold (a total newbie move). But I didn’t care.

You cannot dream yourself into character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.

~ Henry D. Thoreau

What a perfect start to the week, and the perfect time to write another post about one of my all time favorite green vegetables.

Are you with me?

Yup, it’s KALE again! I just can’t get enough of this stuff these days – evidence on this blog is here and here.

Here it is, the most perfect pesto with a twist! This recipe can be made with or without the cheese (and I assure you) is stunning either way. It’s almost entirely raw too.

The Less:

Less store bought processed foods is always a good thing. Less processed salt and cheese is too. Less emphasis on oil and basil means more room for other greens, nuts, and your pure, unadulterated love.

The More:

More satisfying richness from real foods means less craving for it in less pure foods. More fresh kale, parsley, and fresh herbs means more rich green nutrition (that you can grow yourself!). More lemon will have you smiling, and more (killer) flavor will go an awful long way.

Killer Kale Pesto:

  • (1) cup pecan halves, raw
  • (1/4) cup pumpkin seeds, freshly toasted
  • (3/4) cup olive oil
  • (1) cup green curly kale, chopped
  • (1/2) cup fresh basil
  • (1/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1) clove organic garlic
  • (1) tbsp salt
  • (5) tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • (5) tbsp good quality grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a flat tray and pop into the oven while it heats (my trick with dry roasting nuts – I put them in while the oven gradually reaches temperature, this keeps them roasting evenly and prevents that dreaded over roasting – ooooops!). Toast until fragrant and turning golden, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients and add to the blender, starting with the pecans first. Once toasted, add the seeds right away to the blender while still warm – the heat from the warm seeds will assist in better blending and the result will be a much smoother blending process and slightly more delicious pesto.

Blend on high and move around with a spatula to get it going*. Blend all until you reach a thick well blended consistency and there are no bits of kale left.

*Of course you can also use a food processor for this, but alas, I do not use one!

Voila! Scrape with a spatula into a clean jar. This will keep refrigerated for a while in the fridge (at least a week or more). You can also freeze in small containers!

This seriously delicious pesto adds an exquisite touch to a boring old piece of toast, a flavorful topping for a cracker, and an even more delicious component to a polenta appetizer or pizza (like I made tonight with broccoli – double green hit – super yum!).

I’ll share a few of my thoughts on polenta (and how to make a number of delicious dishes with it) in a later post, but for now, join me in an ode to freshness in the form of sunshine, fresh greens, fresh air, fresh inspiration, fresh finds, and best of all fresh ideas!

There may not (really) be anything new under the sun, but what old gem doesn’t benefit from a little freshening up from time to time?

  • How do you stay fresh?
  • Do you love kale as much as I do?

Oh, please do tell.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself

~ Zen Proverb

Welcome to all the new readers this week and and a huge, giant thanks to all the wonderful people I have met along the way so far! I really, truly enjoy all of your comments, and appreciate every single one!

This week I’ve got a yummy raw energy cookie to share, oil-free granola, and some other delicious bits and pieces..

I hope you are all starting a truly fabulous week..!

Yours in Less,


Filed under Cooking, Nut Recipes, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

208 responses to “Recipe: Killer Kale Pesto

  1. Shira – I have been hanging out for this post – truly. Kale is not that readily available down here in wee Sydney-town – so, I have to wait for my weekly Farmers Market outing on Saturday before I can have a go at your kale pesto (in my food processor!). Rest assured I WILL be making it, tho’.

    Cheers Possum! So glad the sun is shining in your neck of the woods, too. More storms and floods at this end.

    • Ooh! Great to hear from you – I really need to get a food processor but my stubborn self refuses. Perhaps that is why my blender kicked the can this week…argh! I hope you like – it will be well worth the wait by the time you get your hands on fresh kale! The Farmer’s Market does sound lovely too πŸ™‚
      Sorry to hear about the rain – ours will be back – soon they say. I am keeping the smiles going for now!! πŸ™‚

      • It’s made and it is scrummy! So scrummy, I’ve even shared some with my neighbour. Thank you!

        Shira’s kale pesto with tomatoes; with poached eggs, on toast; on veges… Now it’s time for almond milk-making! Jx

      • Oh, I am beyond thrilled to hear this! I hope your neighbor enjoys it too πŸ™‚ Sounds wonderful with your combo – YUM! Best of success with your almond milk…oh how happy that makes me! Happy (almost) Sunday! xo

      • 1 thought + two words on processors = Vita Mix ( or your local Costco. You will never have to buy another blender or Quisinart(?) We have had ours for over 20 years and it is still trucking along. πŸ™‚ We will definately be trying that Kake Pesto this spring. Thanks.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I’ve tagged you in a game but it’s no big deal if you don’t want to take part – if you do – follow the link here and have fun with it.
 Enjoy your day!

  3. Love, love, love! What a wonderful recipe!

    • It is SOOOOO good! The pizza last night was better than a tomato sauce pizza, I am totally hooked and even the teenager loved it, broccoli and all!

  4. Ooo I never thought to use kale in pesto! That is fantastic! I’ve been wanting to make pesto for a while too πŸ™‚

    • It’s so amazing Gabby and the first time I perfected it I made it on polenta crust (loved your pizza the other day, btw!) – it was delish!

  5. How could kale pesto NOT be good with those ingredients?? I’m feeling the same spring fever over here. The air has that particular smell that is just SPRING! And I saw a wee, tiny frog in my flower bed this morning. Wonderful.

    • Thanks so much! It has been such a long winter here (it always is) – weeks like this take all the pain away and remind us all just why we put up with all that rain: because it’s so impossibly beautiful! Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  6. this sounds delicious!!!!! i’ll definitely have to try this one!! πŸ™‚

  7. Pesto with kale, I must try it! Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Yum! What a great recipe. I love me some pesto and some kale. Have to add this to my recipes to make list, reading your blog is just making that list longer and longer! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. This sounds fabulous! Two of my favorite things: pesto & kale! Thanks for sharing.

  10. This sounds great! Definitely pinning to try later this week!

  11. I love your blog! Yummy!

  12. I’ve been searching for a fun kale recipe — mission accomplished, thanks to you! πŸ™‚

  13. I’ve never had kale but have a bag in the fridge i’ve been trying to find something to do with…. this seems like a pretty good use for it πŸ™‚

  14. Love this post and LOVE kale. I’m always looking for new ways to use it in my recipes. This looks delicious. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  15. I adore the look of your blog. Oh alright, I’ll follow you – and not in a creepy way… in a wordpress way. I look forward to more delicious looking food. Congrats on the feature!

  16. I’m inspired to have a killer kale weekend :). Thank you.

  17. I love kale and I love pesto so this post is like a dream come true, haha. Stop by and say hi πŸ™‚

  18. A Little Bit Fairy

    Fantastic blog!!

    Curly Kale always reminds me of childhood holidays spent at my Grandmother’s house in Dublin, and hearty dinners of buttery mash potato with kale mashed through…yum! It’s so rare I hear of it anymore…but you’ve managed to reinvigorate my interest in kale while triggering a lovely moment of warm nostalgia!! Thanks =)

    • Well thank you very much! So happy to instigate a fond memory – I too have fond childhood memories of kale πŸ™‚ Kale and potatoes sounds heavenly! Cheers! πŸ™‚

  19. I have started eating a more plant based diet in the last few weeks, and besides juicing, I wasn’t sure I was really going to want to eat Kale. Enter your recipe. This actually looks awesome and I cant wait to try it! I am happy to give your blog a follow, and I look forward to exploring your past blogs!

  20. Raaj Trambadia

    A recipe with some fun just makes it more tastier !! Doesn’t it ?? πŸ˜› Loved the way you divided your post into awesome sections !! Cheers to that πŸ˜€

  21. Carlie Chew

    Sounds so delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  22. Hi I fell in love with Kale this past fall and have found tons of recipes that i love with Kale. I even had wondered about Kale pesto … and now here it it! Thanks for posting and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  23. I love Kale! I cannot wait to try out this recipe. Loving your blog! Ck mine out if you’d like πŸ™‚

  24. looks absolutely delicious! great way to welcome spring.

  25. OMG, I am so EXCITED to try this recipe! I make this pesto pizza concoction and I think this will deliver a delightful twist to an old favorite of mine. Thank you.

    Enjoy the sunshine. πŸ™‚

  26. O kale, where have you been my whole life? Now that you’re here, never, never leave!

  27. This pesto is the little black dress of recipes…Less really is more and always classy. Your blog proves it! Nicely done!

  28. Reblogged this on The Balanced Soul and commented:
    I’m thinkin’ this could be turned RAW very easily, and you can leave the cheese out, subbing in nutritional yeast, raw cheese, or vegan “cheese” although that’s my least favorite of the three ideas.

    Blessings and Brightness!

    • Thanks for the re-blog! This pesto can easily be made w/o the cheese of course and raw – it’s yummy and zingy before the cheese and of course no need to roast the seeds either, if you don’t want to! Enjoy – and thanks! πŸ™‚ Blessings and Brightness back!

  29. Shira,
    You have beautiful and inspiring writing and that is on the topic of kale!
    My children really enjoy Kale. My wife and I too. We typically choose organic kale since it has an extraordinary taste. And of course, there are so many types of kale..

    If I may mention we are very pro organic food as a healthy approach to growing food (less water contamination in the farming process for sure) If you or any of your readers like organic and feel it is an expensive check out our site for articles on buying organic food inexpensively plus details on an e-book on how to buy organics on the cheap at this link

    Have a wonderful day,

  30. congrats on being wordpressed!! Go Kale! I love pesto and this is a great spin on a classic!!

  31. Congrats on being FP! Great Post – thanks for sharing:)

  32. Always looking for ways to use fabulous kale. I’ll have to use something other than pecans, maybe add basil from the garden. I can see this as a chicken pesto ricotta pizza or pasta – yummy!

    Congrats for FP!

  33. perfect way to get more green into my diet πŸ˜‰

  34. I am so excited to try this now! I went Al Forno in Providence RI and they had a garlic scape pesto that was simply divine, so I am very excited to add new pestos to my summer list of sauces to make!

  35. I think pesto is very delicious with pasta and some cheese sprinkled on top with some hot pepper flakes and black pepper. I have never tried kale-but-I have been wanting to try it-I have a feeling it tastes delicious and I have read more than one article about the health benefits of kale. Kale pesto-now that sounds like it would be brilliant-thank you for sharing this delightful recipe, idea and dish. Your posts/Blog have a great radiance to them-keep up the wonderful work. πŸ™‚

  36. I love kale!! It is a great leafy green, and makes a great pesto, I really like to use arugola, and toasted cashews in my pesto. And the pumpkin seeds are a great idea, I have never really thought of that.

  37. “Finding richness in real food…” I liked that line, and it’s so true. When you’re food are true and nutritious, you are satisfied longer and don’t crave processed foods. I really enjoy your blog!

  38. I’m on a Kale-kick, braised kale on spaghettini…. totally going to try this recipe on the weekend!

  39. Pingback: Killer Kale Pesto (Recipe) « My Favorite Spaces

  40. What a terrific way to get KALE down! KALE is like the “IT” food these days, it’s the Kardashian of the veggie world… eh, never mind, those chicks are on the way-side these days! LOL.

  41. It looks like I have a delicious, healthy meal to eat today!

  42. I wish it was easier to find pecans in China, as opposed to diamond-tough walnuts. Anyway, If this was a salad, that’s just as well.

    • You could use walnuts for sure but I would try warming them up to ease in the blending….the flavor will be stronger too but still good! Good luck! Thanks for the comment!

  43. CheyenneCharlie

    Reblogged this on Buying Cooking Serving the Best Foods and commented:
    Great blog, lots of variety

  44. Sarah D.

    Looks fantastic! I’ll try it for sure. Kale has almost replaced spinach for me as my go-to green.

    My current favorite kale recipe is Esalon Kale Salad. Google it and you’ll find lots of versions, but basically it requires stemming the kale and cutting the leaves into fine strips, maybe 1/8″ wide. Before doing that, though, make dressing in equal parts lemon juice, tamari, and olive or sesame oil. Finely slice a red onion and leave it to “cook” in the dressing while you do the kale. The trick then is to use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale, which softens it a bit. Add whatever you want: pumpkin or other seeds, sprouts, avocado, crumbled gorgonzola, halved grapes, crushed nuts (I like brazil nuts or almonds), red pepper, etc. I haven’t tried it with grapefruit yet, but will next time I have it.

    • Thank you for the tip on the yummy salad! On my blog there is also a marinated kale salad, similar on prep but it marinates overnight – sounds similar in prep and can be used as a base for all those yummy toppings!
      Thanks for the comment! Cheers!

  45. That look delicious! I’ve been into pesto since the last restaurant I’ve worked in 8 years ago. Haven’t looked back since. Thanks for the post!

  46. Looks beautiful and sounds like a needed pesto refresher! Thanks for posting. Your blog is wonderful all the way around- super job πŸ™‚

  47. I heart Kale. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Looks yummy! I have lots of memories of my mom growing tons of basil and making pesto to freeze. I have used spinach in pesto before but it seems like a good idea to try kale too!

    • Wonderful! Great to be reminded of being young – seems our mothers were onto something! Thanks for stopping by, have fun with it! Cheers! πŸ™‚

  49. Yum! I just used up the last of my regular pesto I froze before my basil plant bit it, so finding this post is perfect timing. Thanks!

  50. I would “Kale” for some of that right now.

    • And the best comment of the day award goes to……
      Handsome Lover..of Words!
      Thanks! I just chuckled out loud a little πŸ™‚ Cheers!

  51. I’m not a huge fan of pesto but this looks delicious. Great photos!

    • Me either! I usually find them too oily – if you like nuts and basil, you might just dig this one πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

  52. Nelly Andon

    I often wonder if I could use candle nut as replacement for the pine nut, would be good to experiment. This precipice looks fabulous… it

  53. Reblogged this on nevertoooldforfairytales and commented:
    food ❀

  54. I love this pesto version ‘‘ I have to try it πŸ™‚

  55. Thank you for this recipe. It’s perfect timing. I have kale coming up in one of my containers. Talk about a sign of spring. Can’t wait to make this!

  56. makingfire

    I’m so glad I found your blog; apart from this delicious-sounding recipe (that my partner and I are trying tonight!), I love the positivity and optimistic vibes. Thanks!

  57. I simply love kale this time in winter. I rinse a bunch (organic only) and strip the leaves from the stalks. Portion out a handful into a steamer basket and in 6 minutes, voila, a tender addition to any meal. I add EVOO, sea salt. Serves one. The rest of the leaves can go into a bag or towel in the produce drawer for quick access. How could something so easy be so good for us? One can never have too much kale!

  58. I do love kale!!! I love it in salads, in eggs, pasta – you name it. This pesto looks delicious, and I love the use of the pumpkin seeds.

    Thanks for sharing!

  59. I think I do love kale as much as you do. That pesto looks outta this world–and the nutritional stats have to be amazing!

  60. Kale is simply just wonderful- I’ve been slipping it in soup for that bright green, spring-is-almost-here, color!

  61. miiu

    beautiful photos! definetely gave me pesto cravings, dinner problem solved! πŸ™‚

  62. Reblogged this on Fit Food and commented:
    I especially like what’s right above the Killer Kale Pesto recipe!

  63. It is only 10am in Washington, DC and I am already salivating after reading this delicious recipe! I love Kale, not only its nutritional benefits but love the taste and all of the different was to prepare it. I am definitely trying out this recipe over weekend!
    Thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Ha!:) That’s wonderful – I am so glad! I have definitely been known to eat some of this for breakfast….(it’s just as good at 8am as it is at 8pm, hehe!) I hope you enjoy! Thank you for stopping by! Cheers! πŸ™‚

  64. Reblogged this on GLUTEN FREE GIRL IN DC and commented:
    Yet another fabulous recipe for the superfood kale or as I like to call it the superhero of greens! πŸ™‚
    Shira’s blog is awesome I highly recommend following her.

  65. Reblogged this on my sleepy kitchen and commented:
    Kale and pesto are two of my favourite foods, but I never thought to mix them togehter: Kale Pesto! This recipe looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it on some oat cakes (gluten free, of course!) Beautiful photos too.

  66. madisoncary

    i found you via freshly pressed! i just love your blog! πŸ™‚

  67. Oh my heavens what an amazing recipe. I was drooling from top to bottom of this post.

  68. This pesto sounds and looks amazing. I love kale and this is definitely a must try for me…very soon. Thanks πŸ™‚

  69. JC Finch

    Delicious. I have been pulling away from processed foods, but I’d like to do more. I just obviously need to read your blog to figure out how to do that without spending my entire life in the kitchen…. πŸ™‚

  70. This looks so good! I’ve been eating kale in some variation every day (this week it’s in my chili) and I can’t wait to add this recipe to my repertoire. Thanks for posting!

  71. I love the thought of Kale pesto!! How fun!! I have been on a kale kick, even got my bf addicted to home made kale chips πŸ™‚ Cheers!!

  72. I’m only used to sauteeing kale or making homemade kale chips, but this simple recipe for kale is dynamite…thank you!

  73. Very healthy. I am always looking for healthy alternatives like this one.

  74. Shira, this site is amazing. You really do an amazing job with it. Plus, that Killer Kale Pesto…we so have to make that. Thanks.

  75. I love pesto but never made it with kale before. Sounds delicious.

  76. You certainly make green leafy vegetables look so delicious! yum!

  77. This sounds really awesome! I will have to try it out! Check out my blog:

  78. Looks amazing! I’m going to have to try your recipe out. One of my fave pestos to make is this vegan pumpkin seed pesto that I featured on my blog a while back:

  79. I love kale! Going to grow several kinds this year, thanks for the recipe.

  80. Pingback: kale avocado pesto | the veggie nook

  81. This sounds amazing! I’m going to try it. I just made kale chips tonight from some kale I have that overwintered in my garden. Making the leaves into “chips” is the best way for me to get the rest of my family to eat it. But, I’ll eat it prepared any way!

  82. Great blog…. very interesting recipe. The style of your blog is also brilliant.

  83. loving the look of the organic food! Yummy

  84. I love simple, delicious dishes. And this one totally reminds me of spring time. I’ve never thought to use pecans and pumpkin seeds in a pesto. I look forward to trying this and exploring your site a bit more. Thanks for sharing!

  85. What a great idea! I can’t wait to try to sneak some kale into my next batch of pesto!

  86. I’m obsessed with massaged kale salads! I’ve had one for dinner the past two nights and looking forward to another one tomorrow night. I’ll have to give this recipe a try next time.

  87. Amazing food shots… glad to have stumbled upon your blog. Travel, Food & Photography are pure passions for me and am relatively new to the blogging world. Still working on the food section of my blog but whatever is there hopefully reflects the passion. Look forward to your posts – am subscribed.

    Happy Blogging about how ‘Less is More’!

    • Thanks so much – I am glad you found me too! I’ll pop by for a visit to watch your progress – have fun with it and enjoy the process! So glad you stopped by! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  88. CJ

    Reblogged this on vagabondmuseme and commented:
    In my ramblings around WP I stumbled upon another kale lover…I have to try this recipe…but the post (and the blog!) was just so great I wanted to share it here before I tried it on my own. the Kale love just continues.

  89. I’m going to make this ASAP! I have some left over kale that I didn’t know what to do with. Like you, I have a blender instead of a food processor (one day….) so it was great to see that is can be done!

    • Awesome! One of these days I will buckle down and buy a processor – I kind of like finding ways around it though! Let me know how it goes – it’s so goood! thanks for the follow!

  90. Beautiful header photos on this post, Shira — they almost make me want to make this recipe. I’ve no kale in the fridge though, so it is probably time for rocket (arugula) and walnut pesto.

  91. Wow, this looks amazing. I love putting kale in everything and/or substituting kale for everything. (I recently made Saag Paneer curry with kale instead of spinach: ) Such a good idea to make pesto with it!

  92. Great idea, I’ve never liked Kale but maybe this will convert me!
    Beautiful pictures too πŸ™‚

  93. Willie Cloete

    Lovely idea using kale and those toasted pumkin seeds! I love the recipe and when kale comes into season in South africa, will definitely try it!

  94. YUM! I make regular pesto all the time. And we have grown kale now for several years. So now I really cant wait for my kale to come in so I can make this. Awesome!!
    Ok so here’s my question……when I make basil pesto I make 2 or 3 dozen jars at a time and freeze them, fresh pesto all winter long, does not get much better than that. So do you think the kale pesto will freeze as well?

    Thank you

    • Hi Cheryl! Great question and thanks for stopping by to check out the recipe and the blog! Since the base of this recipe is so similar to traditional basil pesto, it freezes very well indeed – my fave is to freeze in ice cube trays and then store in a plastic bag – how do you freeze yours? Best of luck with this recipe…it’s incredibly tasty! Thanks again πŸ™‚

      • I use the ice cube trays sometimes too. But I lilke to use the little, tiny canning jars. I think they are 4 oz. they make great Christmas gifts. A little pesto and homemade bread. All tied up with a red ribbon πŸ™‚
        I think they will be getting kale pesto too.


      • Brilliant! I love it!

  95. calmyourbeans

    Reblogged this on calmyourbeans.

  96. Pingback: Birthdays and Big Brothers « cooklovepeople

  97. Pingback: Creative Kale Pesto « GlutenFreePDX

  98. If we’re being honest here, I have a thing against pesto. But seriously, this recipe is making me rethink all of that. Because all I want to do is slather on some of that deliciously-looking green stuff on pieces of perfectly toasted bread.

  99. Pingback: Killer Kale Pesto and Giving a Helping Hand | Paint Your Landscape

  100. Pingback: Recipe: Authentic Italian Chickpea Flat Bread | in pursuit of more

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