Easy Kale Pesto (5-Minutes to Yum!)


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I am not a big fan of the flavor of kale, but I LOVE Kale Pesto. In fact, this is my favorite way to use up all of the fresh kale we typically grow each summer and my kids love it too. It takes about 5 minutes, stores well, and is delicious on pasta and pizza.

kale pesto in container

Kale Pesto

On it’s own, kale can have a very strong flavor that is not usually kid-friendly, but using it in pesto is a genius way to lock in the nutrients it contains with seriously yummy flavor. I like to pair it with some basil so you get the classic flavor of basil pesto, with added benefits.

This is a favorite way to serve greens to kids and it stores really well in the fridge or freezer if you want to make it ahead. It’s a delicious sauce for pasta or you can use it on pizza instead of tomato-based pizza sauce.

I love to make this with almonds or sunflower seeds—the latter is great if you need to make it nut-free—whenever we have a lot of kale in our garden.

ingredients in kale pesto

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need:

  • Kale (any variety works)
  • Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Roasted almonds or sunflower seeds
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • Salt (to taste)

TIP: Some people also add a fresh garlic clove to pesto, though I find it makes it a little too spicy for my kids. You can certainly add it though!

how to make kale pesto step by step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.

  1. Remove the kale and basil from the stems.
  2. Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor.
  3. Start to blend on low, slowly working up to high.
  4. Add more olive oil as needed to make a thick, but smooth, pesto. Use or store.

TIP: I usually make this in my blender and use the stick that came with it to move the ingredients around continuously. It may be a little easier to make in a food processor, but either way, be patient. Kale leaves are thick and may take a few minutes to blend up!

kale-pesto-in-freezer-bag

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you make kale pesto less bitter?

Pairing it with basil and a little lemon juice—as well as the other ingredients—helps to reduce the bitterness.

How long can you store kale pesto in the fridge?

You can store this in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Or you can freeze it for up to a year. Which is super handy if you find yourself with a lot of fresh kale in the summer.

What is the benefit to using kale in pesto?

This pesto is a great way to use up kale with a more pleasing flavor than eating it by itself, it adds nutrition, and it helps pesto with the classic basil flavor stay brighter green (versus turning brown) if it’s stored.

kale pesto pasta in white bowl and kids plate

Best Tips for Success

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days or in a zip top freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, for up to 12 months. (I press the bags flat so I can easily break off a small amount if needed.) Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature to use.
  • I typically use ½ cup with 1 pound of pasta.
  • Use a blender or food processor depending on what you have. A food processor may be a little easier. This is a thick mixture and it may take a few minutes to blend.
  • Taste and add a little salt if needed.
  • Use on pasta or Pesto Pizza, or on grain bowls, eggs, in soup, or spread on toast.
  • Nut-free: Use roasted unsalted Sunflower Seeds.
  • You may also like my Spinach Pesto, Pesto Pizza Rolls, How to Freeze Greens, and my Pesto Pasta Salad.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so comment below to share if you try it for your family!

kale-pesto-in-container

Easy Kale Pesto (to Share with the Kids!)

Amy Palanjian

Try this healthy pesto with your favorite pasta or in place of pizza sauce on pizza! It’s a kid-friendly way to serve up kale and you don’t have to worry about it turning brown if you store it.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 0 mins

Total Time 10 mins

Course Sauce

Cuisine Italian

Servings 16 (Makes about 1 cup)

Calories 108 kcal

Ingredients 

 

  • 4 cups lightly packed kale leaves (stems discarded)
  • 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves (stems discarded)
  • 1/2-1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds (or sunflower seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about ½ lemon; optional)
  • salt (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Add the kale, basil, ½ cup olive oil, Parmesan, almonds, and lemon juice (if using) to a blender or food processor. .
  • Blend very well until very smooth, starting on low and slowly working up to high. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl or using the stick that came with the blender as needed. Add the additional ¼ cup olive oil as you go to make it easier to blend.

  • Season to taste with salt if needed.

  • Store for future use or mix some into pasta, spread onto pizza dough instead of red pizza sauce, or however you like.

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in a zip top freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, for up to 12 months. (I press the bags flat so I can easily break off a small amount if needed.) Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature to use.
  • I typically use ½ cup with 1 pound of pasta.
  • Use a blender or food processor depending on what you have. A food processor may be a little easier. This is a thick mixture and it may take a few minutes to blend.
  • Taste and add a little salt if needed.
  • Use on pasta or Pesto Pizza, or on grain bowls, eggs, in soup, or spread on toast.
  • Nut-free: Use roasted unsalted Sunflower Seeds.

Nutrition

Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 54mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1780IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 74mgIron: 1mg

Keyword healthy pesto, kale pesto, spinach pesto



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