Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto

My four year old ate a bowlful of noodles coated in kale pesto!

If that doesn’t convince you that this is a tasty way to get some raw kale into your diet, then I’m not sure what will. This is my traditional pesto recipe just replaced with kale instead of basil.

I actually love kale. It’s something that I had to talk myself into trying, but now I can’t believe how much I love it! It’s basically a nutritional powerhouse, being one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. However, as much as I may love raw kale in a nice fall salad with dried cranberries and pears, trying to talk Wyatt into eating a kale salad is laughable. Believe me… I’ve tried. He’s been blackmailed into trying small bites of raw kale before in exchange for the promise of dessert. It’s never been worth it. He takes the smallest bite humanly imaginable, shudders while he dramatically chokes it down, and then gets to eat a cookie for his trouble.

The night I made this pesto, I made sure to use a fun-shaped noodle that he hadn’t seen in awhile. I also never used the “k-word”. It was strictly referred to as “green noodles”. Dinnertime with Wyatt has become hit or miss as of late. Some nights he’ll just eat happily, and others (I’m afraid the majority) he needs to be coaxed or hounded into taking every single bite. I have to say that this was one of the easiest dinners (not to mention tastiest) in recent memory!

Please try this and let me know what you think!

Kale Pesto Recipe

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Condiment, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot


  • 6 cups washed baby kale (most of a 9 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped marcona almonds (or salted nut of your choice)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Step 1
Even though pesto is a raw sauce, I decided to turn the olive oil into garlic oil. It's a really easy process.

Add the 1/2c olive oil into a small saucepan, and add a tablespoon of minced garlic.
making garlic oil
Step 2
If I'd had a fresh head of garlic I would have simply added in about 2 or 3 cloves. We always have a jar of minced in the fridge, so even though it's more to scoop out later, it'll taste just as garlic-y!

Heat over low/medium heat. Usually I say medium/low heat, but you really want to be careful not to scorch the garlic here so make sure it's set to the lower end of things for this. Give it about 10 minutes to really infuse the oil.
infusing garlic olive oil
Step 3
Expect some bubbles the last couple of minutes, but pull it off the heat early if you think it's about to really boil! After about 10 minutes pull the pan off the heat; allow to completely cool before you add it into your pesto.

Add two overflowing cups of kale into your food processor.
one overflowing cup of baby kale
Step 4
I have a mini-prep food processor, which I love, and use for almost everything. Now, however, is definitely the time for your large food processor if you've got two size options.

Look how full my larger processor is with just two cups... I can't imagine how long it would have taken if I'd had to use my mini-prep!
baby kale in food processor
Step 5
Pulse kale about 4 times. Add 2 more cups kale; pulse again. Add the last 2 cups of kale; pulse again.

Here's what 6 cups of pulsed kale looks like, if you'd ever wondered.
6 cups of pulsed baby kale
Step 6
Add in the chopped nuts, parmesan, and lemon zest.
adding ingredients to kale pesto
Step 7
Pulse about 8 times.
making kale pesto
Step 8
Add the tablespoon of lemon juice, and pulse about 3 more times.

This smells fantastic by the way!

Now, using a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic out of your cooled oil, and add it into the pesto.
scooping garlic out of olive oil
Step 9
Replace the lid of the food processor. Turn it onto the lower setting (mine has 1 or 2... I picked 1) and slowly pour in the garlic infused olive oil.

Unfortunately I'm not skillful enough to pour a steady stream of oil into a running food processor and photograph it... so here's what it looks like after adding the oil and letting the machine run for about 20 seconds.
Kale Pesto
Step 10
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. I added 1/2tsp salt and 1/4tsp black pepper.
adding salt and pepper to kale pesto
Step 11
Run the processor one last time for about 10 seconds, and you're left with this beautiful pesto!
Kale Pesto
Step 12
Of course the obvious use for this is simply tossed with your favorite pasta shape of the moment...
Kale Pesto Pasta
Step 13
but you can really use as you would any other condiment. Brian's already tried it as a sandwich spread and inside burritos!
Homemade Kale Pesto
Step 14
I was thrilled that Wyatt ate up the "green" noodles without a fight, and I hope that everyone in your house is delighted with these healthy dish as well!
13 replies
  1. Josh
    Josh says:

    Our family is enjoying your kale pesto right now. What a tasty recipe! The garlic-infused oil is perfect for this. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • kerrycolin
      kerrycolin says:

      Yes I did. I scooped it out and added it before the oil, so that it would be easy to pour a slow steady stream of oil into the food processor. However, I’m sure it would still be a tasty pesto if you discarded the garlic and just added the garlic infused oil. I hope you enjoy it!

    • kerrycolin
      kerrycolin says:

      To play it safe, I’d say up to 7 days in the fridge. That’s my standard rule of thumb for cooked foods in the fridge. Past that, I would freeze it.

  2. Danny
    Danny says:

    I made your recipe using the Tuscan kale. It was delicious with spaghetti.
    What I had left was saved in the fridge as I wanted to use the pesto on steak and was very good as well. The remainder was kept in the fridge for a fortnight and then used with lamb cutlets. It tasted great. After all olive oil is a preservative. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • kerrycolin
      kerrycolin says:

      I love the idea of using the pesto on top of steak! Thank you for a great idea… whenever we splurge on steak next, we’re totally trying that!


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  1. […] not be forgotten! Find some new ways to incorporate greens into your winter foods like in this kale pesto which would be great on a homemade pizza or on your favorite pasta dish. Try blending your greens […]

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