Kale Pesto
Yield: 1+ cup
This versatile sauce adds flavor to a wide variety of basic ingredients, elevating simple meals with ease while adding vibrant color and healthy appeal. 

  • 3 cups packed kale, preferably the Tuscan/Lacinato variety, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped (a typical 8- to 9-ounce bunch will provide more than enough; I use about 4-4½ ounces once chopped)
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) chopped pecans or walnuts (or a mix of both)
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (may use 3 if small)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and several turns of the pepper mill
  • ¼-⅓ cup (56-75ml) olive oil


  1. Add the kale, nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is chopped but still chunky. Scrape down the sides, and then turn the processor on and drizzle the oil through the feed tube. (I like to use just enough oil to make a spreadable pesto. If you prefer a thinner pesto you may add additional oil.) Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Tip: When you remove the pesto from the processor, stir in any lemon juice or residual olive oil that may have seeped under the blade.

    At this point the pesto is ready to go, but it may be refrigerated until ready to use, where the flavor will improve over time. The pesto freezes well, too.


Recently, I’ve been increasing the amount of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons for a slightly brighter flavor. Feel free to taste and add an extra tablespoon if desired. (Note that the flavors will meld and improve as the pesto sits.)
For a slightly different flavor, you could replace 1 cup of the kale with basil-or even try half spinach, half kale.
The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week and freezes very well. To slow browning when storing in the refrigerator, place a slice of peeled, raw onion on the surface of the pesto before covering. Note that browning is caused by natural oxidation but does not negatively affect flavor or mean that the pesto is bad.
Thicker pesto works well as a spread. If you’d like to thin it for other uses, pasta cooking water works especially well, as does chicken or vegetable broth, additional olive oil, a bit of white wine, or even plain water. (Tip: hot liquid is easier to stir in when pesto is cold.) When thinning with water, you may wish to add an extra pinch or two of salt, to taste.

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