Yes… you can make pesto with kale. And, it’s amazing.

Kale is a wonderful ingredient that I discovered fairly recently in life. When I was a kid in fact, like most children I couldn’t even bear the smell of any type of kale. Then one day, I took a road trip with my family through the Tuscan countryside, and everything changed. 

There, cavolo nero – an heirloom variety kale very dark in color and a little sweeter than regular one – has been grown for centuries and is a real staple of local cuisine. During my trip I tasted some of the most traditional dishes from the region, all featuring this great leafy green, and I’ve discovered how tasty and delicious this vegetable can be. With its slightly bitter and earthy flavor in fact, it’s a great addition to soups, pasta and rice dishes.

In memory of that trip and my newly discovered love for kale, I want to share with you a recipe that enhances and heightens this very simple but super healthy ingredient. This kale pesto is a winter variation on a classical pesto, perfect for those winter months when basil is not cheap nor widely available. 

This is not a super traditional cavolo nero recipe like ribollita toscana, but it’s still quite common throughout the region, especially around Florence. Furthermore, it’s super easy to make and to store, extremely versatile and packed with nutrients good for your health. Therefore, it could be a great addition to your quick recipes collection.


The taste of this kale pesto is quite different from the regular basil one (check Mediterranean Living’s recipe here), but I’m sure you will love it nonetheless! It works nicely both as a pasta sauce and on its own on a toasted slice of bread, and of course you can also let your creativity go wild and use it as a pizza topping, a dressing for roasted vegetables, or anything else you like! 


Kale Pesto

Giorgia fontana
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 219 kcal


  • 4 oz kale leaves, central stems removed
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/8 cup almonds
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, add more if needed
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Chili flakes, to taste (optional)


  • Prepare kale leaves removing the central stems.
  • Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil and blanch kale leaves for about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Drain the greens, rinse them under cold water to maintain the color and squeeze out some of the liquid. Be careful to preserve some of the moisture.
  • In a food processor, blend kale leaves, pine nuts, almonds, garlic, and grated cheese.
  • While blending, drizzle the olive oil on top of the other ingredients until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt, lemon juice and, if you like, some chili flakes.


Calories: 219kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 3gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 61mgPotassium: 112mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.5gVitamin A: 1906IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 1mg
Keyword kale pesto
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About the Author: Giorgia Fontana
Giorgia was born in a small town on the Italian Riviera, half the way between Genova and the Cinque Terre, just a few miles away from where pesto was invented. She has a background in psychology and neuroscience and is now completing her training to become a licensed psychologist while working as a web writer. As most of the time happens in Italy, it was her lovely grandmother that taught her how to cook and enjoy every bite of simple and genuine food. Giorgia loves preparing meals for family and friends and her specialty are authentic Sicilian and Ligurian dishes. Other than cooking, her greatest passions are traveling and trekking. Her biggest dream is to be able to see (and taste!) as much of the word as possible.
Mediterranean Living

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