Vegan Kale Pesto

So sadly by this time of year, I’ve generally used up all of my basil pesto. The previous summer’s batches can only last so long in my freezer. Seeing as though herbs have been out of season for quite some time, and that I rarely like to buy those pathetic packages in my local grocery store that they label with “fresh,” I resorted to one of my other favorite green ingredients—Kale.

Ever since I received a flashy new food processor this past Christmas, I’ve routinely been putting that baby to use. Getting a little sick of steamed kale, I figured, why not give the all-star veggie a whirl in the food processor.  Fused with a the right combination of quality ingredients, that smooth movin’ machine seems to make everything taste good.

I decided on going with a pesto-theme, and what do you know, it actually turned out great. Not only did the unfamiliar style of pesto turn out to be delicious, the color was just amazing. Unlike basil-based pesto, which turns brown quickly once air hits its edges, the kale pesto is able to maintain its vibrant earthy tones for quite some time.

The following recipe yields a nutty tasting pesto, perfect for sprucing up pasta, grains, or sandwiches. It’s also packed with nutrition. Rather than pine nuts, which I traditionally use in pesto but are just so gosh darn expensive at the moment, I used walnuts—a nut which researchers from the American Chemical Society claimed at a conference just this past Sunday to be the #1 nut in terms of heart health. And by now, you should know just how outstanding kale fairs in terms of healthy eating. It too has been said to be one of the top nutrient-packed veggies, filled with vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and a variety of other antioxidants. Then there’s garlic, which has shown to have healthy cardiovascular and cholesterol-lowering properties, and olive oil, which is full of the healthy kind of fat and has shown to lower the risk of heart disease. So all quality ingredients jammin’ together in this pesto.

Would I ditch basil pesto all together? No. It’s a classic that I love. But will I be alternating my pesto prepping every now and then with kale. Absolutely!

Vegan Kale Pesto

  • -4 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • -1 large garlic clove (about 1 heaping tsp.)
  • -1/4 cup walnuts
  • -1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • -1/2 tsp. salt
  • -1/2 tsp. pepper
  • -1 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -2 Tbsp. reserved cooking liquid

Steam kale 5 minutes, until leaves start to become tender but remain bright green. Drain over a measuring cup, reserving cooking liquid.

Place skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add walnuts. Stir frequently, removing walnuts from heat once toasted and edges turn dark brown.

Pulse garlic in food processor. Add walnuts and blend until finely chopped. Add in nutritional yeast, coriander, kale, salt and pepper. Once blended, begin to drizzle in olive oil, followed by the 2 Tbsp. reserved cooking liquid. Add more of the kale cooking liquid if a thinner consistency is desired.

Serve atop pasta, bread, or any other dish you’d desire a pesto-like sauce.

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  • Reply
    Nicole, RD
    March 29, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I can’t wait to make this!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

    What a great way to use kale! It’s going on my list! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    when do you add in the steamed kale?

  • Reply
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