Recipes > Kale & Basil Pesto

Kale & Basil Pesto


This flavorful pesto is made with fresh kale, basil, pine nuts, walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Serves: 1/2 cup
  • Active Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Views: 44,004
  • Success Rating: 93% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the Pesto

Making the Pesto
  • 2 cups kale (approx. 1/2 bunch)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (approx. 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts*
  • 1/4 cup walnuts*
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 to 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)


To make the pesto, first clean, dry and remove the stems from the kale and basil.

In a food processor, purée the kale, then remove and set aside. Next, purée the garlic. Add the pine nuts and walnuts and pulse a few times.

*Note: You can use any nut or combination of nuts you like—almonds, pine nuts, walnuts all work well. For a nut-free version, either omit the nuts or use sunflower seeds instead.

Next, add the puréed kale as well as the basil and pulse a few more times. Once you reach the desired consistency, start to drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Ultimately, you can add as much or as little olive oil as you like.

Taste for seasoning, adding nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste. Note that the nutritional yeast is optional, but it does add a nice cheesy flavor to the pesto.

The pesto will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but it will be at its best and brightest if used immediately. Alternatively, it can be frozen for later use.

Chef's Notes

This pesto makes for a great house warming or hostess gift, especially if it is presented in a cute little Mason jar.


  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    I made a batch of this today and I was out of pine nuts, so I used hemp seeds instead, and the results were equally delicious! I have also made it before using almonds instead of walnuts and that was also nice.
  • Debbie L
    Debbie L
    The recipe doesn't indicate when to return the kale to the processor. I'm assuming it goes back in when the basil is added & before adding the oil. Good assumption?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Good catch Debbie - sorry about that. And yes, add kale back and then add the basil and continue from there. Cheers!
  • Debbie L
    Debbie L
    Thanks, Dawn!
  • Joseph  S
    Joseph S
    When I was on vacation 2 years ago out in Thailand, Basil or ferns are hard to come by. i saw nice bunches of fiddle head ferns that they sell on a sidewalk market and decide to buy myself couple of them. Use the ferns with some peeled salted pumpkin seeds that i toast and cant believe the result was so amazing. Told my friend on Virginia and he was so thank ful with such discovery. It is so amazing with what you can do with unknown things, after all a kitchen is a laboratory full of trial and errors.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Great thinking... and you are right. The kitchen is a place of amazing discovery and flavor! ~Ken
  • Davina S
    Davina S
    Hello just wanted to ask a question about fiddlehead ferns. I wondered if they are safe to eat once they are passed the spiral curl when immature? Years ago at a restaurant in Arizona we had fiddlehead ferns that were completely opened and we both had a reaction. Just wondering if you have any information on this. And thank you
  • Brian S
    Brian S
    Hello there Davina, Fiddlehead ferns are absolutely delicious when in season and have a much more enjoyable flavor in the early stages. They can however be eaten when opening although start to become less enjoyable. Fiddleheads do produce a toxin and should be boiled to release the toxins and then the water discarded. Enjoy, Brian
  • Davina S
    Davina S
    Thank you Chef Brian Good advice!
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    Great option for a plant-based pesto! Made exactly according to the recipe, but did have to add more than 1/4c olive oil - probably closer to 1/2c. I may have used a bit more than 2c of kale though, so that could be why extra oil was needed. I used 1TBSP of nutritional yeast. This pesto did have a slightly more bitter flavor (likely from the kale), but it was still tasty - just different than a traditional pesto. Tossed some pasta and roasted cauliflower in the pesto and topped with plant-based parmesan. The final dish was delicious!
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Awesome, Sunnie! I can see that you are willing to be flexible with ratios and cook from your intuition. Keep it up! Lauren
  • Henry K
    Henry K
    Just made this. I put Avocado, Thai Chili, and added Cilantro, it tastes great. I next time I will try adding Walnuts as well. I plan on cooking pesto pasta twice this week, once with pan seared/breaded chicken breast, and once with pan seared shrimp...I'm thinking Campanelle with the shrimp and Fettuccini with the chicken, :) Ill keep you posted! Also minus the Kale, I'm making the minestrone soup this week, so Im good with the Kale lol
  • Erica S
    Erica S
    Love the pesto recipe i have made it several times before but never thought to contrast the different types of nuts for more texture and flavor. will be playing around with more variations of this for sure
  • Pea L
    Pea L
    This is delicious! I made it with pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts and it is incredible. I am wondering what can be used instead of olive oil? I generally don't eat oils but did make this recipe as it is written with the oil. The final consistency was rather thick, so i whisked it with some of my reserved pasta water to make it spread more easily and wonder if it can be made without any added oil and just watered down before serving? Or, any other suggestions? Avocado? Thank you !! PS the color is incredible, thank you for this recipe!
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi Pea, You have several options here. You could make it as written but omit the oil, resulting in a thicker pesto, which you could thin with water, stock, lemon juice, or just about any liquid you desire. You could increase the amount of nuts, which will add some more natural oils to it. Or, as you pointed out, avocado can add the fatty-creaminess for a good texture. Have fun playing around with it, the possibilities are just about endless! Cheers, Sandy
  • Louise E
    Louise E
  • Sara B
    Sara B
    What are tips for freezing this for later use? How long will it keep? How to thaw it?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Hi Sara, please follow the basic guidelines of putting the food item in a tightly sealed container. As with most foods, the pesto will last for a while in the freezer, but consider enjoying it within about 3 months. And, thaw it in the refrigerator.
  • Christine S
    Christine S
    Great idea Dawn, thanks for the tip!

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