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Kale Pesto_ Your New Best Friend

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times (what does that saying really mean by the way?), if there's a food item I suggest every mom always keep in her fridge for a quick dinner fix, it's pesto. Pesto is your best friend during those times when it's late in the day and you're officially too brain dead to make dinner -- let alone think about what it should be. I should know, because I feel that way weekly.

I've rarely met a kid who doesn't enjoy pesto. Maybe it's the unmistakable taste of Parmesan cheese which makes it so addictive for them. Mixed into rice or pasta, as part of an Egg Pesto Melt, whipped up in an omelette (as Chloe has been asking for all this week), or using a good thick spread of it on chicken or fish before baking, pesto is a miracle food which makes most any food taste better.

Start your 2013 off right and ensure your mealtimes will be super easy from now on. Just make a big batch of this Kale Pesto recipe, put some in the fridge, and then freeze the rest in small individual containers so you will always have some on hand when you need it. And trust me, once your kids taste this recipe, you're going to!

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Kale Pesto_ Your New Best Friend (makes 1 cup - 8 servings)

Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 0 mins

egg free

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts*
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

Preparation

1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
2. Serve over rice, pasta or as a sandwich spread.

Note: If you don\\\\\\'t have toasted walnuts, you can easily make them. Just spread roughly chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and pop in a 400°F oven for five minutes.

Accompaniments

cooked pasta, cooked rice, chicken, fish or as a sandwich spread

Make N' Share!
Post a picture of any Weelicious recipe you make on Instagram - I wanna see them! Just tag @weelicious
Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. My passion is creating simple, healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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90 comments

  • Alyson

    Hi, Catherine. I know you sometimes include pasta with kale pesto in the kids' lunches. Do you substitute something for, or just skip, the walnuts to make it nut-free?

    Thanks!

    leave a comment

    • Christine

      I had the same question for a nut-free pesto, too. This kale pesto sounds soooo yummy. I have some nut-free ideas for pesto here: http://www.thekitchn.com/-good-questions-277-155326

      leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You can use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of nuts! You can definitely leave them out completely if you need to!

      leave a comment

  • Laura

    That looks delicious. What would you substitute for parmesan cheese if you wanted to make this dish vegan?

    leave a comment

  • Julie

    I made the pistachio pesto with spinach last night and my 2 year old daughter loved it (as did I). I can't wait to try this one!

    leave a comment

  • Erica

    Laura, you could sub in nutritional yeast for the parm to make it vegan. Tastes just like parm cheese and is packed full of vitamins and protein!

    leave a comment

    • Laura

      Thanks, I'll try that!

      leave a comment

  • Irina

    Thank you for this wonderful idea! I do not have any fresh kale right now, but I happen to have some frozen kale. Would it work if I defrost and drain it? I feel I cannot wait until I can make a trip to the store :)!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Hmm I think that would be too wet and limp even after draining it. I also feel like the frozen kale, since it has been steamed or blanched and then frozen and defrosted it changes the flavor. I really feel like this is a recipe that needs the fresh kale!

      leave a comment

  • Amber

    We have dairy and peanut allergies in our house, but I think I'm going to try this with some daiya vegan cheese and either some pumpkin seeds or possibly some almonds (my guy can tolerate them)...I'd like to try adding the nutritional yeast, but have been having trouble finding some not processed with nuts!

    leave a comment

  • Natalie Poulson

    Sounds awesome Catherine! My guys love pesto, but we limit how much we eat it because of the Parm. If I make it, I usually sub in Romano made from sheep's milk, as it is easier for us to tolerate. Good suggestions about the yeast though - I might try half and half. Does anyone have a suggestion for what we could sub for the lemon juice though?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Do you need to avoid all citrus or just lemons? You could sub freshly squeezed lime or orange juice instead. They would give a different flavor but still help to brighten the pesto! You could also leave it out for a completely different flavor!

      leave a comment

  • Jami

    I would also like to know about making this completely nut free. Wondering if I could use soybutter instead?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You could use seeds instead! Sunflower, pumpkin, soybeans, etc...

      leave a comment

  • Geralyn Murray

    What a great reminder about pesto! I always forget it's the one food my kids can agree on. Thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Julie

    Silly question....you don't cook the kale?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Nope, leave it raw!

      leave a comment

  • Katherine

    My family and I love pesto! I can't believe I never thought about making kale pesto! I'm so going to try it this weekend after I pick up our farm share. Yum.

    leave a comment

  • Julie

    My daughter is allergic to nuts. Are the walnuts necessary or can you recommend something else besides nuts, pinenuts, etc?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      If you can use seeds I would recommend using sunflower or pumpkin seeds! Otherwise just leave them out! Maybe use a bit more kale if you're going to leave the nuts out altogether.

      leave a comment

  • Laura

    Looks delicious. I'd also like to know about making it nut and seed free, if possible?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Hmm no seeds? You could just leave them out altogether! It will be a slightly different consistency and flavor, but will still be delicious!

      leave a comment

  • Shannon

    I also would like to know if its possible to make without nuts??

    leave a comment

    • CarrieH

      maybe toasted soy nuts would work for those that are nut free?

      leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You could substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds!

      leave a comment

  • Wendy M

    I love pesto, but I too have a kiddo who is allergic to nuts and garlic, and canola oil, and a slew of other things. So, I've read the tips regarding either leaving out the nuts, or subbing with pumpkin or sunflower seed. You don't happen to have a recommendation on subbing garlic? I know it's a flavor chance if i don't include it. I tried making hummus once and leave out the garlic and it completeely changed the taste. Basically, not tasty. So, in addition to a garlic-free pesto, I'm looking for a garlic-free hummus as well, but don't know if that's possible

    leave a comment

  • Molly

    This looks great! looking forward to trying!! thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Dorothy

    I love kale, but I always have it cooked because for me, it's a bit bitter. Does this come out bitter, or do the other ingredients help with that? Thanks! (By the way, you are simply fantastic! Love all your recipes! Everything I have made has turned out great!)

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      The other ingredients (the lemon juice especially) help to cut the bitterness!

      leave a comment

    • Samantha

      You could also try different kinds of kale, if you can find it. Maybe the purple kale would be less bitter.

      leave a comment

  • Allyson

    Great timing! Always looking to weave more veggies into our diet and Whole Foods have organic kale on sale this week!

    leave a comment

  • Lilmagicmama

    I hardly ever have all the necessary ingredients on hand to make one of your wonderful recipes but clearly my luck is changing for the new year, not only did I have everything I already made the pesto and had it for lunch. Thanks so much!

    leave a comment

  • Susan

    I'm allergic to milk (and thus the parmesan). Would it work to make itwithout the parmesan? I could eat everything else.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      The parmesan adds tons of flavor. You can absolutely leave it out, it will just be a different flavor. If you can find nutritional yeast that tastes just like parmesan cheese! You could use that for the flavor.

      leave a comment

    • Danielle

      My usual basil pesto recipe is free from parmesan (due to dairy issues in the family). I've always used about a tablespoon of white miso paste per 2 1/2 cups of basil. No one has ever missed the cheese. I haven't played with the ratios in this (or other) pesto recipe yet, but the nice thing about pesto is that you can keep adding little bits and mixing until you find a nice balance. (Also, I don't usually add salt other than what is in the miso, but that's me.)

      leave a comment

  • Zoogs

    I am just now standing in the kitchen waiting for the pasta to cook dipping tortilla chips into this pesto and loving it! I know what I'll be snacking on during nap time tomorrow (nearly guilt-free)!

    leave a comment

  • Nat

    So yummy! I actually made it with the go raw sprouted plain punpkin and sunflower sees mix! I will deff be making this again!

    leave a comment

  • Evelyn Wong

    Hi..

    This is from singapore. Been browsing your recipes alot.. can I substitute kale with any other vegetables?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Spinach and collard greens are both great substitutes for kale!

      leave a comment

  • Tina

    Should i blanch the kale first??

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Nope! Add it raw!

      leave a comment

  • Kelly S.

    I love your blog and your new cookbook! I have a 14-month-old and love that your recipes are all healthy, tasty,. and easy. Last night I made your Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Lemons, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives and added some whole wheat past with your Broccoli pesto on the side. She loved it (as did my husband), so I will definitely be trying this recipe. One thing I am finding, though, is that it is taking me quite a bit longer to prep the ingredients than is stated in the recipes. For example, I made your Sesame Udon Noodles for dinner tonight and it took me 20 minutes (instead of 2) to prep all of the ingredients. Maybe I'm just slow at chopping veggies and measuring stuff. Do you have any tips or tricks for making the prep faster and more efficient? Thanks!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I think that really comes with practice! Sometimes you can sort of do two things at once, like if something needs to be steamed or boiled you can start that while you're chopping everything. :) Thank you for your kind words!

      leave a comment

  • Cara

    just wondering if this can be refridgerated if a double batch is made?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes! This will keep in the fridge for about 5-7 days!

      leave a comment

  • Janelle Weems

    Wow ! So excited to try this ! My daughter loves the spinach pesto ( hubby too ) I make it every Sunday for the week! Can't wait to add this to the fridge !

    leave a comment

  • Cait

    Had some kale in the fridge so I made it last night--loved it! My 6-yr-old, who also loved it, kindly reminded me that I didn't need to eat so quickly..... it was that delicious!

    leave a comment

  • Samantha

    I have made basil pesto - a good idea to freeze is to do it in ice cube trays, then when frozen, pop out and into a freezer bag!

    leave a comment

  • Super Human Foods

    I saw a Kale Pesto recipe that substituted sunflower seeds for nuts. As you may or may not know, seeds are much easier to digest than nuts!

    leave a comment

    • Super Human Foods

      By the way, I found this page while doing research on Kale for my new article. It's a fun exploration of Kale's super-powers and fascinating history! Check it out:

      http://superhumanfoods.org/2012/11/kale-the-king-of-vegetable-superfoods.html

      leave a comment

  • Elizabeth

    Can you use pine nuts instead of walnuts or would it change the flavor too much?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You can definitely use pine nuts! It will change the flavor, but it will still be yummy!

      leave a comment

  • Sheila

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I tried this recipe and it was deliecious---I shared it on my blog (giving you credit) and encouraged folks to follow you!!! Thanks for a great recipe!

    leave a comment

  • Alexandria

    Made the Kale Pesto on Sunday night, had with bowtie pasta and a few grape tomatoes. My husband loved it. Had leftovers for lunch. Loved it! Made a pesto omelet (with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes), LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!

    leave a comment

  • Alena

    I'm trying to add more greens by making pesto and smoothie for the whole family. And looking at your cooking gear, you used a Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor which I don't have. I do have a magic bullet, would that be a good food processor for all your pesto and smoothie recipe? I just got your cookbook couple days ago and I remember seeing a post that you have two cookbooks, so when will the second book coming out? Thanks so much!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      The Magic Bullet should be just fine for all of those recipes! My second book will be coming out this summer!

      leave a comment

  • Terri

    This may very well be the perfect recipe to get my girls to eat some leafy greens! I'm definitely trying it soon.

    leave a comment

  • D

    wanted to use nutritional yeast to make the recipe vegan - how much would you suggest as a substitute for the cheese?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I would start with half the amount. Taste it and see if you'd like more of that flavor in the pesto!

      leave a comment

  • Jess

    A food processor is at the top of my \"To-buy\" list. Would this work in a blender? I have a stand mixer too, but no attachment that would puree anything.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes, a blender will work. Just watch it and scrape the ingredients down so that everything gets nice and smooth!

      leave a comment

  • Buzz On…KALE! The Hob-Bee Hive

    [...]  Kale Pesto from [...]

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  • Tina

    My 4 year old says \"Yum\" whe he eats it with noodles. We love this recipe. Made a double batch and froze in 3oz cintainers. Will never be without it in my freezer!!

    leave a comment

    • Ksmeltzfun

      Great idea, how long can you freeze it for?

      leave a comment

  • Food For Our Brood- Getting Your Kids To Love Pesto! Eat Like No One Else » Eat Like No One Else

    [...] pesto made with kale and decided to give it a try, and it was a huge hit! The recipe can be found here on Weelicious.com. This is a very inexpensive meal that packs a great nutritional [...]

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  • Audrey

    Can you make this without walnuts? Or will it taste totally different?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      It will definitely taste different, but you can use just about any nut you prefer!

      leave a comment

  • Preserve Your Produce! « The PULSE!

    [...] Because I live alone, it is hard for me to eat a whole bunch of kale (or spinach, or chard, or carrot tops or basil, or cilantro, or parsley for that matter) before it starts to wilt. After making a salad or side dish, I use the left over kale leaves to make pesto. I divide the large portion into small baggies which I store for weeks in the freezer. This fresh topping is delicious on fish, chicken, pasta, and sandwiches! Here’s the recipe I use: http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2013/01/07/kale-pesto-the-easiest-kale-recipe/ [...]

    leave a comment

  • Isabelle

    I liked it but everyone thought the raw garlic was too strong. I had to add more kale, nuts and oil to drown out the garlicky taste Next time I will roast the garlic beforehand.

    leave a comment

  • Mary

    Loved this recipe- thank you! I also used pine nuts instead of walnuts, and used 1/2 kale and 1/2 basil. I served it with whole wheat pasta and sliced chicken breast. The kids really loved it, and my older son (6) actually said that it's his favorite. As if he had tasted it millions of times before - hahaha! thanks again Catherine. This was a great way to get them eating kale.

    leave a comment

  • Menu Plan Monday: Week Of February 18th

    [...] – kale pesto with broccoli and yellow squash, yeast rolls [...]

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  • Diana

    Great ideas for the whole family!

    leave a comment

  • Diana

    love all the great ideas!

    leave a comment

  • Csa Blog 2013 – Week Hilltop Hanover Farm

    [...] Kale Pesto: Check out this recipe from weelicious.com for an easy kale pesto. [...]

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  • Kale Pesto Tryingchange

    [...] of the wascilly wabbit visiting us at night (sadly, our carrots did not fair so well). I saw a recipe for kale pesto and decided to try it. I usually do not like pesto because I do not like strong basil flavour and [...]

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  • Michelle

    Tried this tonight.. None of my 4 kids liked it at all.. Neither did my husband or I.. First time trying Kale anything.. Guess we're not kale fans :(

    leave a comment

  • Dawnpolk

    Outstanding!

    leave a comment

  • September Snapshots Pardon My Garden

    [...] http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2013/01/07/kale-pesto-the-easiest-kale-recipe/ [...]

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  • Menu Plan Monday: Week Of September 16th One Mama's Daily Drama

    [...] Tuesday – (meatless) Rising Moon ravioli with kale pesto [...]

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  • Jaclyn

    Can I triple this recipe and freeze it in smaller portions?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine McCord

      Yes! Freeze before adding the oil!

      leave a comment

  • Menu Plan Monday: Week Of September 16th One Mama's Daily Drama

    […] Tuesday – (meatless) Rising Moon ravioli with kale pesto […]

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  • Menu Plan Monday: Week Of February 18th One Mama's Daily Drama

    […] – kale pesto with broccoli and yellow squash, yeast rolls […]

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  • Karin

    Oh. My. Goodness!!! This was unbelievable. I used frozen kale so I had to bump up the amount of olive oil to get it to process but that's ok with me. I used pecans instead of walnuts because that's all I had in the house and it's so delicious, I seriously want to just eat it with a spoon straight out of the blender.

    leave a comment

  • Tammyblackmer

    Have really enjoyed the recipes on this site. Can't wait to try this one!

    leave a comment

  • Louise

    YUM YUM YUM! Made this with kale from the garden, toasted cashew nuts, halved the garlic and added bit more olive oil! This makes a very good dip as well as a fast, healthy, no fuss dinner! Thanks for sharing this recipe- awesome!

    leave a comment

  • Menu Plan Monday: Week Of April 8th One Mama's Daily Drama

    […] – kale pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, […]

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  • Tourism

    hi..I just want to say that this recipe is really fantastic and simple one . I love this recipe..,we will make it once more,thanks for sharing this recipe with us
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    leave a comment

  • Tourism

    hi..I just want to say that this recipe is really fantastic and simple one . I love this recipe..,we will make it once more,thanks for sharing this recipe with us

    leave a comment

  • Superfood Pasta Topper Oprah Winfrey Network Living With Diabetes

    [&#8230;] This recipe for Kale Pesto is a guiltless way to get that nutty, parmesean flavor that we love about pesto with the added health benefits of Kale. Get this addictive Weelicious recipe from Catherine McCord here: http://weelicious.com/2013/01/07/kale&#8230; [&#8230;]

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