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kale pesto in a bowl with bowl of linguine in the background

Easy Kale Pesto

  • Author: Elle
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 0 min
  • Total Time: 20 min
  • Yield: 2 cups pesto 1x


Toasted pine nuts, quality Parmesan and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice bring out the best of kale’s deep, earthy flavors. This pesto is the perfect way to liven up any bowl of linguine, or add flavor to a crunchy crostini if you’re looking for a quick and easy appetizer idea. 


  • 8 cups coarsely chopped kale, stems removed (from 1 large bunch)
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, more as needed


For the Pesto

  1. Working in small batches, run kale, basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice through a food processor until very fine.
  2. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is thick but smooth, and no longer cakes to the side of the bowl. Yours may require slightly less or more olive oil depending on the variety and amount of kale.
  3. Add more Parmesan or sea salt to taste if needed. Extra pesto freezes well – just store in a freezer bag and defrost for use within 6 months.

Adding to Pasta

  1. Cook 16 ounces pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Drain and return pasta to pot over low heat.
  2. Add pesto, a good squeeze of lemon juice and just enough pasta water so the pesto spreads easily.
  3. Divide into bowls and top with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Healthy


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup pesto
  • Calories: 200
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 139 mg
  • Fat: 17 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg

Keywords: easy kale pesto