Kale Pesto: A Revelation

Holy smokes, people. Today I took another step down the Pesto Road of Flavour and stumbled upon an incredible form of blitzed-up greens.

That’s right, friends. Kale pesto.

I love kale, and have enjoyed it in soups and with anchovies. I have lots of friends who like kale too, including Sharon Gunter over on Gunter Nation, who says “Yay, kale!” excitedly whenever its name is uttered. She even did a Kale Recipe Round-up on her and her partner Bill’s blog. Big fan.

Being a busy Tuesday and all, earlier today I went in search for a really simple way to use the beautiful kale I got in my Home Organics bag this week. I happened across this kale pesto recipe on the Delicious magazine website, and, my, am I glad I did.

This pesto involves a teeny bit more effort than normal pesto. Keeping in mind that regular pesto involves basically no work, you’re still looking at an ultra-simple and super quick supper here. Basically, you need to cook the kale a bit before whizzing it up, but other than that, it’s a case of getting everything in your food processor and pressing the whizzer button.

The original recipe used pinenuts, which I substituted for almonds as they were what I had in my cupboard. I also used Grana Padano cheese instead of Pecorino, and a Parmesan cheese would work just as well.

I also added the subtlest hint of chilli because chilli and kale are, like, besties, and it’s sad for them to be apart. Instead of using an actual chilli, I cooked my kale in chilli-infused oil. You can find bottles of this in most shops and it’s a really good ingredient to have in your kitchen.

The original recipe also called for freshly grated nutmeg, which I left out only because I forgot about it! And I added a squeeze of lemon juice. Otherwise, I followed the original recipe quite closely and you can consult that over here. Below is how I did it.

What you need for Kale Pesto (makes a Bonne Maman jar-full, enough for four bowls of pasta and then some)

100g flaked almonds

100g of grated Grana Padano cheese (or Parmesan or Pecorino) 

100g of mascarpone

Olive Oil (chilli-infused oil if you have it!)

100g of kale 

2 garlic cloves


1 lemon

Heat a small dry pan over a medium heat and toast the almond flakes. This will only take 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the cheese and add it to the food processor. Also add the mascarpone cheese and whizz everything together.

When the almonds have gotten a golden colour (be sure to keep an eye on them as they’ll burn very easily!) transfer them to your food processor and whizz everything again.

Now heat the olive oil in a separate, larger frying pan over a medium to high heat.

While the pan is warming up, pull the kale leaves from their stalks. Discard the stalks and wash the leaves really well.

Finely chop the garlic cloves.

When the oil is hot, fry the garlic for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t allow to burn as that makes the garlic bitter.

Roughly chop the kale, and add it to the pan with the garlic after the 3 minutes. Cover the pan and let the kale steam for 3 to 5 minutes, checking on it a few times to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once it’s had 5 minutes, you can transfer the cooked kale and garlic to the food processor with the almonds, cheese and mascarpone. Squeeze about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into the pesto and whizz everything together until you have your kale pesto!

Check it for seasoning (but beware, it’ll taste so good that you’ll probably try to eat it all at once) and add more lemon or a bit of salt if you think it needs it. It should be quite salty from the cheese anyway.

I had this pasta but I reckon it would be stunning on toasted bread with a bit of melted goat’s cheese on top. I also think it would work divinely as the main filling of a quiche.

Any other ideas come to mind when thinking of how to use this lovely pesto? I think it could prove to be a very adaptable little treat!


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  1. My hubby grew kale in the garden this year and has been nagging me to use up the rest of it – and now I know just what I’m going to do with it. So that’s a “yay kale!” from me too. Thanks Aoife!

  2. Genius – a summer approach to winter veg … love it

    • That’s what drew me to the recipe, actually! The leftovers today rocked on a bit of toast with mortadella, mozzarella and tomato. Amaze!

  3. The mammy-in-law bequeathed us a big bag of kale today – I know what I’ll be making with it! Will definitely try with pasta first, but I’d also be tempted to stuff a spoonful of it inside a chicken breast, wrap that in parma ham, and bake the lot…

    • Lovely stuff! I’m pretty sure you’ll like this pesto, it’s a real keeper. And I love the idea of using it to stuff a chicken breast, that would work a treat!

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