Is anyone else struggling to get back on the healthy train after Thanksgiving? I’m stuck on the pie train myself. My body wants greens but my brain wants more pie.
It’s so cold outside that salads don’t hold their usual appeal, so I whipped up some kale pesto instead. This recipe is super easy to make in your food processor and it’s ready in about five minutes.
Unlike traditional pesto, which is typically made with fresh basil and pine nuts, this recipe calls for kale and pecans. I love using pecans with kale because their light sweetness helps balance out the bitterness of the kale. You know what else helps balance out the kale? Salt and some heat. This pesto is best served on something warm.
This kale pesto recipe is a delicious way to pack in some greens this winter, and it’s the perfect use for the random bunch of kale in your fridge. You can use pesto for so much more than just pasta. I’ve provided some more uses below!
Uses for Kale Pesto
Here are just a few ideas:
- Toss it with warm pasta or spaghetti squash
- Or gnocchi with roasted carrots (shown below)
- Use it as pizza sauce (like this)
- Spread it inside your grilled cheese sandwich (or any sandwich)
- Mash it with avocado and spread it on toast (like this)
- Dollop it onto scrambled eggs or an omelet
Please let me know how you like this kale pesto in the comments! It’s a bold one, but I really love it and hope you do, too. Cookie loves to eat the leftover kale stems.
On a pesto kick? Check out these fun recipes featuring pesto!
Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 ½ cups
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Food Processor
- Cuisine: Italian
Extra kale? Make this easy kale pesto recipe! It’s an absolutely delicious way to eat your greens. Use it like regular basil pesto—on pasta, pizza and more! Recipe yields about 1 ½ cups.
- 3 cups packed kale (about 1 small bunch), preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, thick ribs removed
- ½ cup raw pecans
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1 medium-to-large clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a food processor, combine the kale, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Turn on the food processor and blend until the kale and pecans have broken down into small pieces.
- While running the machine, drizzle in the oil. Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Then add the cheese and process briefly to combine.
- Taste and add more lemon juice, for zing (up to 1 tablespoon), or salt, for overall flavor and to cut the bitterness of the kale (up to ¼ teaspoon). Use as desired.
- Leftover pesto keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 10 days. Or, freeze it for up to 6 months. (I like to freeze pesto in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop out the cubes and store in a freezer-safe bag.)
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the Parmesan. Substitute 1 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, to taste, or generously sprinkle your finished dish with vegan Parmesan.
Make it nut free: Replace the pecans with hemp seeds or pepitas (green pumpkin seeds).
How to toss pesto with pasta: Before you drain your pasta, place a liquid measuring cup in the sink. Then, pour about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into the measuring cup before you drain off the rest of the water. That pasta cooking water is pure gold—it contains starches that create a creamy emulsion and help attach the sauce to the pasta. Off the heat, toss pasta, pesto and small splashes of pasta cooking water together until you’re satisfied with the consistency (I used roughly ⅓ cup reserved pasta cooking water with ¾ cup pesto and ½ pound of spaghetti).