Kale Pesto Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Make Ahead

by: ibbeachnana



1 Ratings

  • Makes about 1- 1 1/2 cups

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Author Notes

Someone brought me a huge bag of kale last year and I made my first kale pesto out of some of it, froze a good amount for the winter, finished it all off so this is the perfect time for another batch or two.

As with any pesto you can change the amounts of garlic and oil. I used some lemon juice and a little Meyer lemon olive oil for a fresh batch today. - ibbeachnana —ibbeachnana

Test Kitchen Notes

Believe it or not, I've only ever had kale pesto made with raw greens. The blanching step in ibbeachnana's recipe definitely makes for a more subtle end result. Her pesto tastes more like miscellaneous greens than earthy, slightly bitter kale. So this is a great sauce for the kale-shy. To intensify the flavor, I would cook the kale less or maybe not at all. And, next time, I’d toast the nuts to add more nuttiness. - kate —Kate Williams

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 1 big bunch of kale, rinsed, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 3/4 cupEVOO, 2 tablespoons of which was Meyer lemon olive oil
  • 1/2 cupParmigiano, microplaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and rough chopped
  • 1/2 cuppine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoonlemon juice, fresh
  1. Blanch the kale in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and chill down in a cold water bath, drain and squeeze excess water. Place into small work bowl of food processor and pulse to start breaking up the kale, add rough chopped garlic, process, add pine nuts, pulse several times. Slowly add the olive oils and lemon juice, process until everything is broken down. It will never be real smooth. Finally add the cheese and pulse a few times. Season with salt and pepper. If serving with pasta grate a little extra cheese over and add EVOO to the hot pasta, toss with pesto, serve with additional grated cheese.
  2. These are the basics of my recipe and the way that I prefer it, but you can add more garlic, lemon, or oil if you like.


  • Condiment/Spread
  • Italian
  • Kale
  • Vegetable
  • Pesto
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pine Nut
  • Make Ahead
  • Vegetarian
  • Side
Contest Entries
  • Your Best Greens

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Davis Bliss

  • walkie74

  • jblock

  • ibbeachnana

  • WinnieAb

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14 Reviews

Diana June 3, 2018

I added some fresh basil to the mix. Loved it! I think next time I'll sub walnuts for the pine nuts.

marija November 1, 2013

made this today and its divine! I mixed pine nuts and sunflower seeds (just because) and before I even poured it in the jar had a huge spoonful with a slice of crusty bread, num num huge thumbs up! thank you

Davis B. February 5, 2013

Made this tonight & added oven roasted cherry tomatoes, pecorino romano instead of parmigiano. Fantastic!

walkie74 September 23, 2012

Oh. Oh wow. Yeah. Freshly grated parm really makes this pesto divine. My husband even ate some, and he's not a big fan of winter greens! I am *so* saving this!

walkie74 September 23, 2012

I tried this with swiss chard instead of kale. Instead of adding pine nuts, garlic and olive oil separately, I ended up adding the foriana sauce from this recipe:


...which I'd made earlier that evening :) I may go back and add some more cheese after it cools, but aside from that, it looks promising.

taxidog August 29, 2012

Wow, this was amazing! I like pesto in theory, but only like basil in small amounts. I've been looking for ways to use so-good-for-you kale and this is just the ticket. I had some leeks, so I blanched them too and threw them in. Do you think it would freeze well? Cheers!

Harvest Q. August 19, 2012

"A big bunch of kale" is a confusing amount to me. It would be ever so much more helpful to quantify that. So many variables could lead to an over- or under- abundance of kale; for instance your source or the type of kale used. As an aside, I have made arugula pesto with great success. Thanks!

ibbeachnana August 19, 2012

I'd have to run to the store to see what a bunch might weigh and it is pouring down rain so the best that I can do is say 1 pound or about 6-8 cups. I made it again a few weeks back and added a little more garlic, a touch of lemon zest and toasted pine nuts. Certainly taste and add more of what you think it needs as blanching does result in a milder flavor.

jblock January 8, 2012

Really, really, REALLY good.

ibbeachnana January 8, 2012

Too funny, just copied my recipe contributions and made note to make some for company this week.

Thanks and I did end up toasting the pine nuts

ibbeachnana November 12, 2011

I also toast the pine nuts, but still blanch the kale as most of it this time of year is so bitter and I prefer the mild flavor. I'm looking to add the remaining pesto to a soup this week.

ibbeachnana September 23, 2011

The best reason for blanching and cooling for me is to maintain the bright green color for the pesto, but way too often around here the kale and other greens for that matter are just too bitter and blanching helps, actually just enough time for the whole batch under boiling water is enough time. I am so sorry not to mention toasting the pine nuts.

WinnieAb September 23, 2011

I've never made kale pesto before and absolutely loved it! Great recipe :)

magproctor September 21, 2011

I made this tonight to put on a pizza -- delicious!

Kale Pesto Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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