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Raw Kale and Walnut Pesto

Kale & Walnut Pesto

Kale & Walnut Pesto – Clean & Delicious

Putting a simple spin on classic pesto is an easy way to give your pesto a seasonal feel.  By subbing kale in for traditionally used basil, you end up with earthier, heartier flavors that we tend to lean towards as the cooler weather rolls in.

This my friends, is what I like to call, “Power Food Pesto”!

You’ve got kale, walnuts, olive oil, lemon, and garlic all at the same party.  HELLO?! What could be better than that?!  I just LOVE it when naturally nutritious foods just so happen to be insanely delicious (which, in all honesty, is the way it usually works).

This is a recipe that I originally spotted over at Always Eat Dessert (yes, another mouth watering blog that you need to add to your collection!). I had never thought of using Kale in pesto before, so you can imagine my excitement when I found this recipe.  Simply brilliant.

Now, whenever I make pesto I always sub out a bit of the oil for either water or broth. Originally I did this to cut back on excess oil but have found that it actually results in a creamier, more luscious pesto.  There’s no oil pooling at the top of your pesto and the ingredients seem to emulsify even better this way.

You could certainly swap the walnuts for whatever you have in the pantry and I’d be curious to know if any of you have ever tried making pesto with Swiss Chard or other leafy greens?

This is truly a recipe with endless possibilities that could be used in countless different ways!

Raw Kale and Walnut Pesto

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic (4 if there not fat!)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 bunch raw kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 1/2lb)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste (don’t be stingy w/ the salt)


Combine the walnuts, garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a food processor and pulse repeatedly until all ingredients are coarsely chopped.

Add the kale, olive oil, water, and lemon juice and pulse again until you’ve got a nice, thick paste. If necessary, add a bit more water or olive oil to loosen it up.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, making sure to give one last mix.  Enjoy!

Makes about 1 ¼ cups

Nutrients per 2-tablespoons: Calories: 138; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 1.9g; Cholesterol: 2mg; Carbohydrate: 8.9g; Dietary Fiber: 1.8; Sugars: 1.1g; Protein: 4.3g

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9 comments on “Raw Kale and Walnut Pesto

  1. wow, i lately craved pesto…now i found a new version of it, thanks your are awesome!! greets from israel tel aviv

  2. That looks SO SO SO GOOD! Kale is such a super nutritious food and I LOVE pesto – as does my husband but some of the jars you buy have some kind of gnarly ingredients – totally making this this weekend – will link back and comment again on the outcome. I always LOVE yoru recipes! xox

  3. Yes, we often make this same recipe with swiss chard and it’s delicious! We saute the swiss chard and sometimes toss in some basil as well. It’s my favorite way to eat swiss chard and goes really well with some roasted sweet potatoes!

  4. So glad to hear it! Hope you enjoy the recipe:)

  5. This recipe is amazing! It is my new ‘potluck dish’, this winter alone I have made it at least a half a dozen times and everyone I have shared it with always asks for the recipe! Thanks for posting Dani!

  6. How well does this recipe store – freezer worthy for a bit, or how long in the fridge? I’m excited to try it :)

  7. My sister and I used to make fresh pesto for our father all the time. When his diet became more of an issue we started adding spinach and parsley in varying amounts. It’s really tasty. I like it heavier on the spinach, but she preferred it equal parts basil, spinach and parsley. YUMMY!

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