Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto, Lacinto Kale, Garlic, Pesto Alternative, Walnut Pesto
Adapted from “The Real Dirt on Vegetables” by John Peterson

I was really craving pesto this week and realized that I didn’t have basil or arugula in my fridge. I did, however; have some local lacinato kale that I bought at the Woodbine Farmers Market. So, I looked it up and sure enough you can make pesto with kale. Plus, you have all the added health benefits from using the super food kale. This is an easy and quick recipe that will last for up to a week in the fridge – or you could freeze it. Enjoy!


  • ¼- ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ -2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ pound lacinato kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (1 medium bunch should do)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp old bay seasoning
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  • Toast chopped walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (such as cast iron) over high heat, stirring constantly until they start to brown and become fragrant. Alternatively, place on a baking sheet and toast at 325 degrees. Keep an eye on nuts – they burn quickly and will get bitter!
  • Bring about two quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, then add kale. Cook, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and drain.
  • In a blender or food processor, add garlic, walnuts and drained kale and whiz until well combined. Pour in oil in a steady stream, and pulse until combined. Add ½ teaspoon salt and Old Bay Seasoning, pulse, then taste. Add remaining ½ teaspoon of salt if necessary.
  • Spoon pesto into a bowl and stir in cheese and pepper.

For ½ pound pasta, use 2-3 tablespoons pesto. Keeps really well in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to a week.

Makes about one cup.