Damn Good Kale Pesto with Walnuts & Pine Nuts

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Damn Good Kale Pesto, made with kale, basil, nuts, parmesan, & olive oil! Healthier than traditional basil pesto, this delicious kale pesto is chock-full of superfood benefits of kale: nutrient-rich, dense in fiber, & great for digestion. Pair this kale pesto with anything from pasta to a simple summer vinaigrette (or even a turkey burger!). This versatile sauce will become a fridge staple in no time!

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Pin this Kale Pesto recipe for later!

So…I have a confession to make: I am totally a hoarder.

Now before you go & get all judgmental on me, hear me out:

I hoard fresh produce. 

& if you’re anything like me, you’re a total farmer’s market junkie.  It is no secret: I LOOOOOOVE a good farmer’s market. After all, is there anything better than stall after stall of beautiful, locally-grown produce at the peak of its freshness?

Long story short, no.  There isn’t. 

Additionally, if you’re anything like me, you live in a state like Minnesota, where most of the year is a dreadful & freezing wintery tundra of doom. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Ok, it’s really not THAT bad, but it IS totally true that we Minnesotans don’t get to enjoy perfect weather for the majority of the year.  & As a result, our access to beautiful, locally-grown, fresh produce is limited to the late-Spring & Summer months.

So when these months roll around, you know I’m all about gettin’ my produce on at farmer’s markets.  Week after week I stock up on delicious fresh goodies & try my darnedest to work through them throughout the week:  grill ’em, roast ’em, throw ’em on a salad, serve ’em with fajitas, simmer ’em in a soup, nosh on ’em raw, sauté ’em into a frittata – you name it, I’ve done it. 

But inevitably, there are always a couple of laggers that sadly by the end of the week haven’t been used.  & Rather than let a couple of leftover goodies stand in my way of making another farmer’s market haul for the coming week, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that transform these leftovers into something that can be paired with the new farmer’s market goodies in the coming week. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Enter kale pesto. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

This time of summer I ALWAYS have an abundance of kale & basil. 

Problem solved – this kale pesto is easy to make & comes together in literally less than 5 minutes.

Start by rinsing & drying your farmer’s market kale & basil & put them into your high-speed blender or the bowl of your food processor

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Add a couple of cloves of garlic, some toasted walnuts, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, & my secret flavor ingredient for kale pesto: lemon.

The acidity of the lemon brightens the fresh flavors of the kale pesto & really makes them sing.  I use both the juice & the zest to really drive these flavors home. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Buzz with olive oil on high for about 45 seconds until the mixture is creamy & smooth, & that’s it.

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

It is really THAT easy. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!
kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks & use on anything & everything from pasta or as a great summer vinaigrette. 

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

OR, just stay tuned for the next couple of days for a couple of KILLER recipes that use up this delicious kale pesto that are perfect for game day or squeezing the last bit of summer out of your labor day weekend. 

grilled fries with fresh herbs & lemon pesto aioli via playswellwithbutter.com

 & Because pesto doesn’t have to mean pasta, check out how I integrated my kale pesto into a killer burger & fries meal – 100% easy, 100% homemade, 1000% delicious.  Check out my Caprese Turkey Burgers with Super Crispy Grilled Fries with tons of fresh herbs & lemon pesto aioli.  

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Damn Good Kale Pesto with Walnuts & Pine Nuts

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments, Pasta Recipes
  • Method: No-Cook, Blender
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Healthier than a traditional pesto, this delicious kale pesto is chock-full of all the superfood benefits of kale: dense in fiber, nutrient-rich, & great for digestion. Pair this kale pesto with anything from pasta to a simple summer vinaigrette & this versatile sauce will become a fridge staple in your house!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups firmly packed chopped kale (roughly 3.25 ounces)
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves & tender stems (roughly 3 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, toasted (1.25 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (.63 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Prep the kale pesto: Place the kale, basil, walnuts, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon zest, & crushed red pepper flake (if using), in a high-speed blender or food processor. Place the lemon juice & olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. Pulse to roughly chop & combine the kale mixture. Once chopped into fine pieces, slowly stream in the olive oil mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. The pesto should come together as a thick, vibrantly green sauce. Taste and season with additional salt or ground black pepper, as desired.
  2. Serve: Enjoy your kale pesto immediately. It’s, of course, great tossed into your favorite pasta dishes. (this Pesto Pasta with Seared Scallops is one of my all-time favorites). It’s also great in breakfast burritos, drizzled over a gorgeous summer salad, whipped into an herbaceous aioli, folded into a turkey burger, & so much more. Get creative & have fun with it – sky’s the limit!

Notes

  • Storage: This kale pesto will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. 
  • Freezer: To freeze kale pesto, store in a freezer safe container (these are my favorite!) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator a day before you’d like to use it. 

Keywords: Kale pesto, easy, healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House & Eat Love Eat.

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Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

Don’t forget to pin this Kale Pesto recipe for later!!!

kale pesto via playswellwithbutter | easy, delicious & versatile, kale pesto will become a fridge staple in your house!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 8.29.16
    Lori said:

    Do you mix the pesto into a vinaigrette to make a dressing?

    • 8.29.16
      jess said:

      yes! 2 tbsp would do the trick!