in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

Killer Kale Pesto

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! It’s safe to say it’s been a (very) welcome change and the views of the twinkling snow-capped mountains are particularly breathtaking. 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. Of course in my excitement, I under-dressed as it was still finger-numbingly cold (a total newbie move). But I didn’t care.

What a perfect start to the week, and the perfect time to write another post about one of my all-time favourite 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.

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!

Welcome to all the new readers this week 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!

229 responses to “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.

    1. 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 🙂
      Sorry to hear about the rain – ours will be back – soon they say. I am keeping the smiles going for now!! 🙂

      1. 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

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

      2. 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. 🙂 We will definately be trying that Kake Pesto this spring. Thanks.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

  6. 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 =)

    1. Well thank you very much! So happy to instigate a fond memory – I too have fond childhood memories of kale 🙂 Kale and potatoes sounds heavenly! Cheers! 🙂

  7. 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!

    1. Thanks! Great to hear – thank you for following too! Best of luck with incorporating more veggies into your foods, there are so many endless ways….
      Cheers! 🙂

      1. My sister and I sat and read your blog quite a bit last night – love your take on food and moderation – I look forward to reading more posts (and of course trying more of your recipes!)

  8. 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!

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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!

    1. 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! 🙂 Blessings and Brightness back!

  11. 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,

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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. 🙂

  15. 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.

  16. “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!

    1. 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!

  17. 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.

    1. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

    1. Wonderful! Great to be reminded of being young – seems our mothers were onto something! Thanks for stopping by, have fun with it! Cheers! 🙂

    1. Me either! I usually find them too oily – if you like nuts and basil, you might just dig this one 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

  20. 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

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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! 🙂

    1. 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! 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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…. 🙂

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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’!

    1. 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! 🙂

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

    1. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

  34. 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

    1. 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 🙂

      1. 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 🙂
        I think they will be getting kale pesto too.


  35. 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.

  36. I made this yesterday and think it has great possibilities, but I thought 1 Tbsp. of salt was waaaaayy too much, so I used 1 tsp., and think even that is too much. Are you sure that quantity is correct?

    1. Hi Susan! Thanks for letting me know about this – I’ve personally made this recipe many times and have readers who claim it is the best recipe on the blog – I’ve never adjusted any of the ingredients listed here and can vouch that it is correct..however it doesn’t mean it is correct for you! People have such different preferences/tolerances for salt – of course feel free to reduce it as much as you like! It is always good for other readers to know that they should start with less and maybe work up to it. Thanks again for letting me know 🙂

      1. Wow! I thought SURE it was a mistake. I can hardly wait to make the recipe with even less salt, since I think it is super yummy, just a little too salty for my taste (my husband liked it, though, and he is not an adventurous eater at all – but then again, he eats about a bag of pretzels each day and loves his salt!). Thanks for the quick reply.

        1. I am making this recipe now, so it’s good to read this discussion (I will opt for starting with less salt). The fine-tuning of recipes is, for sure, subjective and comes down to individual taste preferences. Thanks very much for a beautiful recipe.

          1. Of course Gena – and thanks again to Susan for the feedback – so happy to share and this pesto has remained one of my faves too. I freely admit I like salt and am not shy with it. Enjoy!

  37. Oooh, just made this again today, then received Gina’s comment in my inbox and had to return to say how much I absolutely LOVE this pesto, as does everyone with whom I’ve shared the recipe. It is such a winner – albeit with less salt 🙂

  38. Just made this for the second time–it’s on the recipe rotation. Can’t express enough how delicious this Kale Pesto recipe is. Merci mille fois, encore.

  39. Just want to tell you that I am making this recipe for my French sister-in-law who will being visiting for a few days, starting tomorrow. I sent her (and other friends and relatives) the link to this recipe, and sang its praises to her. She, who is living and working in west Africa (no kale, and she is a kale lover), loved the sound of this recipe. It will be such a pleasure to make this for her. Thanks again, Shira! We can’t get enough of this.

    1. So fantastic Gina! Love love to hear it is such a hit 🙂 I’ve got a batch in my fridge as we speak and am looking for a fabulous way to use it for dinner! Enjoy your visit with your family!

  40. Further to the above comment: My two French (and I know you understand what that means!) sisters-in-law are in love with your kale pesto recipe. I have shared the link to your site with loved ones on a few continents. Having wowed guests only last night with yet another batch of this stunningly delicious recipe, I must again express a heartfelt Thank You! PS: There are so many ways to enjoy this pesto, as well.

    1. Fabulous Gina!! That is the best news 🙂 And if your French family approve then, well, that is the ultimate compliment! So glad!

  41. Thank you so much for your Kale Pesto and the “Farinata di Ceci” (chickpeas flour flat bread) recipes!

    They’re as delicious as you promised! The only remark I have to make is…the kale pesto is a tad too salty. I guess it’s a matter of taste, but 1 tbs is a bit too salty for me, especially because there’s so much lemon juice. I didn’t put the cheese because I’m trying to keep it vegan.

    Looking forward to making more of your recipes!

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