Kale Pesto — Versatile, Verdant, Vivacious!

by Dorothy Reinhold on March 4, 2013

Print This Post Print This Post Kale Pesto on Shockingly Delicious

Quick, drop everything, run out to the garden and snag a few leaves of Lacinato kale. Yeah, the long, skinny, pebbly looking leaves.

What, you don’t have them in your garden (or your garden is under snow right now)? Never fear. You can find them in the produce section at the supermarket, called Lacinato, or Tuscan, or Black, or Dinosaur, or Cavolo Nero kale.  Or snag them from a farmer at the farmers market this week.

Kale Pesto on Shockingly DeliciousJust get a bunch, and make this kale pesto. I got the recipe on Friday and have already made it twice. Yes, twice in four days, because the first batch was gone, and I couldn’t envision living without it from now on.

This is going to be a workhorse in the kitchen, I can tell. I will use it …

  • Spread on toasted bread, then topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan, and run under the broiler. Had this Friday night as part of dinner and it was GREAT!
  • Smeared on pieces of cold steak. Had this Saturday for lunch!
  • Smeared on a hard cooked eggs, bite by bite. Had this for Sunday breakfast.
  • Stirred into mashed potatoes. Had this for Sunday dinner.
  • Stirred into cooked pasta. Will have this soon!

Kale Pesto on Shockingly DeliciousThanks to radio chef Evan Kleiman for chasing down the recipe from Chef Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar inVenice,Calif., where she discovered it. Neroni has been named Chef of the Year by L.A. Eater, and Superba was named Top 10 Best New Restaurants by Los Angeles magazine, and on the list of 99 Essential Restaurants for 2013 by L.A. Weekly.

It takes about 10 minutes to make. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you make it. Then come back and tell me what you think!

Recipe: Kale Pesto

Summary: Kale Pesto, ultra green, lemony and Parmesaned-up, is a kitchen workhorse. Never be without it!


  • 1 bunch Lacintao kale (aka Tuscan, black, dinosaur or Cavolo Nero), about 12 ounces, *washed (see note below) and ribs removed
  • 2 cloves raw garlic
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Calolea Olio Nuovo fresh pressed)
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Black pepper, a few grinds


  1. Kale Pesto in food processor on Shockingly DeliciousPlace all ingredients in a food processor. Puree until pasty (pesto means paste) and well combined, 30-60 seconds.
  2. Scrape into a lidded container and store in the refrigerator until use.


Recipe by Chef Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar in Venice, Calif. via radio chef Evan Kleiman of Good Food.

*Washing the kale

Especially if you have picked it from your back yard, where aphids probably rule the roost, wash the kale under very hot water to dislodge the critters. This will also begin to soften it slightly, and it will turn bright-dark green.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 8-12
Culinary tradition: USA (Nouveau)
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

Calolea sent the olive oil for recipe testing.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelleyhaze February 12, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Made this today. I’m going to have it with penne. Tasted pretty good on its own!


Dorothy Reinhold February 13, 2015 at 8:03 am

Oh how fabulous that you made it! So glad you like it. I like it on its own, as well. Or try this: spread a bit on one piece of bread in your sandwich. Boom, done for the condiments!


Sandy Sparks July 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Healthy kale pesto – gotta try this


Dorothy Reinhold July 23, 2014 at 5:46 am

Oh yeah, you DO!


Om Livin' September 1, 2013 at 10:03 am

The kale is suppose to be raw right? For some reason, my batch came out really stringy. any advice?


Dorothy Reinhold September 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Yes, raw. Did you use Tuscan kale?


Carrie July 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

I have so much kale right now. What a great recipe!! And so cost effective because I didn’t need to go buy $10 worth of pine nuts. Thanks. 🙂


kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts March 7, 2013 at 4:57 am

What is it with you California food bloggers flaunting your fresh local produce under my nose year ’round? Jealous much? You bet I am. First Heather, from In Her Chucks, flaunted her Cherry Tomato Pesto and now this. Heather’s recipe happened to arrive with a haul of late season CSA farm share tomatoes last fall, and I was able to make–and put up–a ton if it to enjoy over the tomato-less winter.

This Kale pesto recipe will have to wait a mere 2 months, though, then I’ll be drowning in kale from my farm share and will be eager to try this out.

Thanks, Dorothy!


Dorothy March 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Yeah, I just LIVE to torture you! Hmmmm…wonder where you live that you can’t get kale in the winter…hmmm…


Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips March 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm

What a great idea! Maybe I can sneak some kale to my hubby this way!


sippitysup March 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

As long as it’s green give it a whirl right? GREG


Dorothy March 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Ha ha!


Yosef - This American Bite March 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

Interesting… I think I have seen something similar before, perhaps time to give it a try.


Dorothy March 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Absolutely, no time like the present to try something new!


Jeanette March 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I love making kale pesto – great way to sneak in some greens for my family!


Heather || Heather's Dish March 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I love the deep green color – so beautiful!


Lizthechef March 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

You have me ready to run out for some kale to make this – looks yummy.


Dorothy March 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Run and get some, but also plant some kale in your yard. I know that it will grow wonderfully in San Diego! Lacinato is my favorite variety, for all purposes, followed by Red Bor, for beauty.


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