Click Here to get free weekly recipes and exclusive giveaways.

Kale Basil Pesto Recipe (Power Foods)

by Jeanette on August 10, 2012 · 25 Comments
Don't miss out on any recipes! Sign up for my weekly e-newsletter. Simply click here to subscribe. You can also subscribe to my cooking videos on YouTube here.
6.4K Flares Twitter 17 Facebook 68 Pin It Share 5.6K Google+ 71 StumbleUpon 633 Email -- Filament.io 6.4K Flares ×
Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto

I’ve been getting lots of kale in my CSA Box lately and trying to figure out what to make with it. Although I love kale, my kids are not huge fans. But…they love Pesto! So, I decided to try making Kale Pesto tucking in some basil so it would have a familiar taste. After all, kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables and I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out.

I’ve made Kale Pesto several times already this summer, and have even thrown in some broccoli stems and beet greens on occasion. The trick is to blanch the greens ever so slightly just to get the chalky taste out. I did this with Swiss chard and it worked wonders.

Basil, Kale, Broccoli Leaf, Beet Green Pesto

Pesto made with Basil, Kale, Broccoli Leaves and Beet Greens

I’ve also made pesto with Collard Greens, another dark leafy green, which is often misunderstood. Many recipes cook this leafy green vegetable to death. When I used collard greens to make pesto, I cooked it for about 15 minutes until it was nice and tender, then blended it with basil, garlic and olive oil.

I used the entire batch of this Kale Pesto up on sandwiches one day, and on pasta another time. My kids thought it was regular pesto and loved it.

Kale PestoRecently, I made dinner for a family through our church’s Angel Meals outreach program and made this pasta dish (using whole grain pasta) with pesto made with basil, kale, broccoli leaves, and beet greens (stems and veins removed), grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli and pan roasted potatoes.

Another day, I slipped in some of this Kale Pesto into my boys’ lunch, spreading a thick layer on bread before making these Tomato Caprese Panini’s.

Tomato Caprese Panini with Kale Pesto

Tomato Caprese Panini with Kale Pesto on White Whole Wheat Bread

This week, a group of bloggers is featuring Kale as a Power Food. Although some of you might never have tried kale before, or might not like it, it is definitely worth reconsidering. Kale belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables – not only is it high in fiber, but it is exceptionally high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese, and high in copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. One cup of cooked kale provides 1327% Daily Value of vitamin K. Vitamin K, which is also found in parsley, spinach, and collard greens, helps reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Kale is high in antioxidant nutrients (carotenoids and flavonoids), anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates. Eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables may help prevent certain cancers, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

If you’ve never tried Kale, please reconsider. The health benefits make such a strong argument that you should eat Kale. This Kale Pesto is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to get my kids and my husband to eat healthy green vegetables without even knowing it ;).

5 from 1 reviews
Kale Basil Pesto (and other greens)
Prep time
Total time
I've made different variations on this pesto depending on what greens I have on hand. In addition to kale, I have made it with Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli leaves, and beet greens. Blanching green vegetables like kale, broccoli leaves, and beet greens ever so briefly removes the chalky taste. If you make it with collard greens (stems/veins removed), you'll need to cook it longer, approximately 15 minutes. This pesto will have a bit of a chew to it, so if you like a lighter pesto, add more basil.
  • 1 bunch kale, leaves only, ribs and stems removed
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cut kale leaves roughly into 1 inch pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add kale leaves and cook 30 seconds until just wilted. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out all the liquid. Place kale, basil and garlic in a food processor bowl. Process until finely chopped. Gradually add olive oil through feeder tube and continue processing until pesto is smooth.
This is a great way to get kids to eat green vegetables. They'll never know the difference. Use it in place of pesto as a sandwich spread, on bruschetta, and as a pasta sauce.

Check out what these other bloggers have cooked up for this week: (If you’re interested in joining our group, contact Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits.

Alyce – More Time at the Table
Ansh – Spice Roots,
Casey – Bookcase Foodie
Jill – Saucy Cooks
Martha – Simple-Nourished-Living
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Bambi – Adobo Down Under

More Pesto Recipes:
Swiss Chard Cilantro Garlic Scape Pesto
Swiss Chard Garlic Scape Pesto
Basil Spinach Pesto
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
Kale Arugula Pesto, In Erika’s Kitchen
Kale Almond Pesto, Food Loves Writing
Dandelion Pesto, David Lebovitz
Pasta with Kale Pesto, Shrimp and Tomato, The Perfect Pantry
Basil, Walnut and Kale Pesto, Clean Green Simple
Kale Pesto, Pamela Salzman & Recipes

The Truth About Kale, WebMD
The World’s Healthiest Foods: Kale

This post has been linked up to Tidy Mom’s I’m Lovin’ It Party and Beyond the Peel’s Keep It Real Thursdays.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I’ve been making kale pesto this summer, too, and using it just as you have, on sandwiches and pasta (thanks for linking to my recipe!). Although I have lots of basil in my garden, I haven’t yet tried combining kale with the basil. I have added a spoonful or two of the kale pesto to scrambled eggs, which makes a terrific breakfast.

    • I added basil in with the kale so it would have a familiar taste for my kids – they’re much more accepting of new foods when I keep an element constant.

  2. Kale pesto!! Brilliant, why have I never done this before! I absolutely LOVE kale, any which way so I need to make this. Thanks for a great recipe, as usual.

  3. Gorgeous Kale Pesto Jeanette! That Tomato Caprese Panini looks AMAZING!!!

    • Thanks EA – the kids loved the Tomato Caprese Panini, and I would thrilled to be able to sneak in some greens 😉

  4. oh how I love this!!

  5. Definitely going to try making this kale pesto. I have made it with spinach and that was quite tasty. I see you have made a vegan version without the parmesan. You can add some nutritional yeast which tastes a bit like the parm. Very healthy and beautiful photos.

    • Thanks Suzi – Kale has a stronger flavor, but if you mix in enough basil, it will be great. I did not add cheese because I froze some of it and wasn’t sure if it would keep in the freezer with the cheese added. Nutritional yeast is a great cheese substitute – thanks!

  6. Wow!! I am simply amazed at how innovative your recipes are! Kale pesto is a brilliant idea.

  7. I totally love this kale pesto. I can totally see it though never crossed my mind till I saw your post. I also like that you didn’t use pine nuts. Love the vibrant green you captured it so well.

    • Thanks Ansh and Shulie – I used Swiss chard in pesto last summer, so started adding beet greens, broccoli stems, kale and even collard greens this summer. Turns out, if you use enough basil to balance the other greens, it comes out great and the kids couldn’t tell the difference when I used it in sandwiches and pasta.

  8. Although I am known for trying almost anything in foods, I was just introduced to kale recently. Thanks for giving me another way to fix this, it looks super!

  9. I love the combination of kale and herbs; it’s one of my favorite! Beautiful use of a veggie for kids’ favorite dishes!

  10. Great for sandwiches and pasta. Sounds delicious.

  11. I am definitely making this!

  12. What a fantastic idea to use it to make pesto. Thanks for the tip to blanch it slightly. Your panini also looks incredible!

  13. This is the ultimate pesto-healthy, tasty and kid approved!

  14. Great idea for adding in the other greens as well. I have to try that next time :)

  15. Kale pesto – what a good idea. I have to give it a try.

  16. Thank goodness for a tasty and fun Kale recipe – the family was getting tired of kale chips and smoothies.

  17. I love the idea of kale pesto, it’s so versatile! Think I might have to make a batch.

  18. I get questions all the time where readers asks “how do I get my family to eat kale?” I always say kale pesto. I” send them here for the recipe. Thanks Jeanette. This looks awesome.

  19. Wow, Jeanette, what a creative and resourceful use for kale! Love that it’s kid approved too :-)

  20. Caity Rogers says:

    Can you tell me about how many servings this makes? My husband can’t digest too much fat (even healthy fats such as olive oil), but I would love to try this!

Leave a Comment


Rate this recipe:  

6.4K Flares Twitter 17 Facebook 68 Pin It Share 5.6K Google+ 71 StumbleUpon 633 Email -- Filament.io 6.4K Flares ×