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Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe

Packed with green power, this Kale Pecan Pesto recipe is a delightful twist on the classic pesto. It's a wonderful way to incorporate the nutritional benefits of kale into your diet while enjoying a deliciously creamy and nutty sauce that pairs perfectly with pasta, salads, and more.

Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe

Photos of Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe

The key ingredients of this recipe are kale and pecans. While kale is a common leafy green found in most supermarkets, pecans might not be as readily available depending on your location. When shopping, look for raw pecans in the nut section. If pecans aren't available, feel free to substitute them with other nuts like walnuts or almonds.

Ingredients for Kale Pecan Pesto

Kale: Rich in vitamins and minerals, kale adds a hearty texture and a subtle, earthy flavor to the pesto.

Raw pecans: These nuts are the star of the show, adding richness and depth of flavor. They're also a great source of healthy fats.

Lemon juice: Helps to balance the flavors and adds a bit of tanginess to the pesto.

Garlic clove: Adds a punch of flavor.

Fine sea salt: Enhances the other flavors in the pesto.

Extra-virgin olive oil: Used as the base of the sauce, it combines all the ingredients together while adding smoothness.

Parmesan cheese: Adds a robust flavor and a creamy texture to the pesto.

One reader, Katerina Fanning says:

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This kale pecan pesto recipe is a game-changer! The combination of kale and pecans creates a unique and delicious flavor. It's so easy to make and incredibly versatile. I've used it on pasta, sandwiches, and even as a dip. It's a must-try for anyone looking to add a healthy twist to their meals.

Katerina Fanning

Key Techniques for Crafting Kale Pecan Pesto

How to prepare kale pecan pesto: This involves combining kale, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a food processor, then blending until the kale and pecans are broken down into small pieces. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the oil and process until the pesto reaches the desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Finally, add the cheese and process briefly to combine.

How to adjust seasoning: After preparing the pesto, taste and add more lemon juice or salt to adjust the seasoning according to personal preference.

How to serve: Serve the kale pecan pesto over pasta for a delicious and nutritious meal.

How To Make Kale Pecan Pesto

This Italian pesto recipe works amazingly on any of your favorite pasta meals! It’s made with fresh herbs, pecans, and healthy kale.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes



  • 3cupskalepacked, about 1 small bunch, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, thick ribs removed
  • ½cupraw pecans
  • 2tbsplemon juiceto taste
  • 1large garlic clove
  • ½tspfine sea salt
  • ½cupextra-virgin olive oil
  • ½cupparmesan cheesegrated


  1. In a food processor, combine the kale, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

  2. Turn on the food processor, then blend until the kale and pecans have broken down into small pieces.

  3. While running the machine, drizzle in the oil.

  4. Process until the pesto reaches the desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.

  5. Add the cheese and process briefly to combine.

  6. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt to taste.

  7. Serve over pasta, and enjoy!


  • Calories: 1083.94kcal
  • Fat: 108.92g
  • Saturated Fat: 20.16g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 69.74g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 15.11g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.47g
  • Fiber: 4.45g
  • Sugar: 2.98g
  • Protein: 22.40g
  • Cholesterol: 33.71mg
  • Sodium: 696.44mg
  • Calcium: 665.97mg
  • Potassium: 373.05mg
  • Iron: 2.19mg
  • Vitamin A: 263.60µg
  • Vitamin C: 47.67mg

Expert Tip for Perfecting Kale Pecan Pesto

When making pesto, it's important to add the olive oil gradually while the food processor is running. This helps to emulsify the oil with the other ingredients, resulting in a smoother, creamier pesto. If you add all the oil at once, the pesto may separate or become too oily. Also, remember to scrape down the sides of the food processor periodically to ensure all ingredients are evenly processed.

Time-Saving Tricks for Preparing Kale Pesto

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonders: Opt for recipes that require minimal dishes and cook everything in one pot for easy cleanup.

Batch cooking: Make a large batch of the pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays for quick and easy use in future recipes.

Kitchen organization: Keep your kitchen organized and clean as you cook to save time searching for utensils and ingredients.

Multitask: Utilize downtime, such as waiting for water to boil, to prep other ingredients or clean up as you go.

Substitute Ingredients For Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe

  • kale - Substitute with spinach: Spinach can be used as a milder alternative to kale, providing a similar texture and vibrant green color to the pesto.

  • pecans - Substitute with walnuts: Walnuts can be used as a substitute for pecans, offering a similar rich and nutty flavor to the pesto.

  • parmesan cheese - Substitute with nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast can be used as a vegan alternative to parmesan cheese, providing a cheesy and savory flavor to the pesto.

Presentation Ideas for Kale Pecan Pesto

  1. Elevate the plating: Arrange the pasta neatly on the plate, ensuring it is visually appealing and inviting. Use a garnish such as a sprig of fresh basil or a sprinkle of finely grated parmesan to add a touch of elegance.

  2. Incorporate texture: Consider adding a crunchy element to the dish, such as a delicate kale chip or a sprinkle of toasted pecan crumbs, to provide contrast and depth of flavor.

  3. Highlight the pesto: Use a quenelle or a small spoon to carefully place a dollop of the vibrant kale pecan pesto on top of the pasta, ensuring it becomes the focal point of the dish.

  4. Balance the flavors: Pay attention to the placement of the pesto and pasta, ensuring that each bite offers a harmonious blend of the nutty pesto, al dente pasta, and the umami notes of the parmesan cheese.

  5. Create a visual flow: Consider the overall composition of the plate, ensuring that the colors and shapes complement each other to create an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

  6. Emphasize freshness: Add a final drizzle of high-quality olive oil over the dish just before serving to enhance the flavors and add a glistening sheen to the presentation.

  7. Attention to detail: Wipe any smudges or spills from the plate, ensuring that it is immaculately presented before it leaves the kitchen.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Pesto

  • Food processor: A food processor is essential for blending and chopping ingredients, making it perfect for creating the kale pecan pesto. It helps to break down the kale and pecans into small pieces and emulsify the oil into the mixture.

  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is useful for combining the ingredients before transferring them to the food processor. It can be used to toss the kale with the other ingredients before processing them.

Storage and Freezing Guidelines for Kale Pesto

  • To store the kale pecan pesto, transfer it to an airtight container or jar. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto to prevent oxidation and discoloration. Seal the container tightly and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days.

  • If you want to freeze the pesto for later use, spoon it into an ice cube tray, filling each compartment about 3/4 full. Place the tray in the freezer until the pesto is solid, about 2-3 hours.

  • Once frozen, pop the pesto cubes out of the tray and transfer them to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Label the bag with the date and contents, then store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.

  • To use frozen pesto, remove the desired number of cubes from the bag and let them thaw in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can microwave the cubes on low power in 30-second intervals until they're softened and ready to use.

  • Pro tip: Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto before freezing to help prevent freezer burn and maintain the vibrant green color.

  • When ready to use the thawed pesto, give it a good stir to reincorporate any separated oil. If the consistency seems too thick, you can thin it out with a splash of olive oil or warm pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Reheating Tips for Kale Pecan Pesto

  • To reheat leftover kale pecan pesto, start by placing the desired amount in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to prevent the pesto from drying out during the reheating process. Microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the pesto is heated through and reaches your desired temperature. Be careful not to overheat, as this can cause the olive oil to separate and the pecans to become bitter.

  • Another method for reheating kale pecan pesto is to use a stovetop. Place the pesto in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir the pesto constantly to ensure even heating and to prevent scorching. If the pesto seems too thick, you can add a small amount of water, olive oil, or lemon juice to help loosen it up and restore its original consistency. Heat the pesto until it reaches your desired temperature, then remove it from the heat and serve immediately.

  • If you plan to use the reheated kale pecan pesto as a pasta sauce, you can also reheat it directly in the pasta. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Reserve a small amount of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. In a large skillet, combine the cooked pasta, leftover pesto, and a splash of the reserved pasta water. Toss the ingredients together over low heat until the pasta is well-coated and the pesto is heated through. The starch in the pasta water will help the sauce adhere to the pasta and create a silky, cohesive dish.

  • Lastly, if you have a large amount of leftover kale pecan pesto, you can reheat it in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the pesto to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the pesto is heated through. Stir the pesto halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. Once the pesto is hot, remove it from the oven and serve it with your favorite pasta, bread, or vegetables.

Fascinating Trivia About Kale Pecan Pesto

Kale pecan pesto is a versatile sauce that can be used in various dishes, such as pasta, sandwiches, or as a dip. It is a great way to incorporate nutrient-rich kale into your diet, as it provides a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pesto. Additionally, pecans are a good source of antioxidants and healthy fats, making this pesto not only flavorful but also nutritious.

Budget-Friendly Kale Pecan Pesto: Is It Possible?

This kale pecan pesto recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. Kale and pecans are affordable and nutritious, providing essential vitamins and minerals. The addition of olive oil and parmesan cheese may slightly increase the cost, but they are versatile ingredients that can be used in various other dishes. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10. The pesto can be used as a sauce for pasta, a spread for sandwiches, or a topping for grilled meats, making it a versatile and budget-friendly option. Overall Verdict: 9/10

Is This Kale Pesto Recipe Healthy?

This kale pecan pesto recipe is a nutritious and delicious option for a healthy meal. Here's why:

  • Kale is a superfood packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants and fiber. It's low in calories and high in nutrients, making it an excellent choice for a healthy diet.
  • Pecans are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They also contain vitamins and minerals like manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
  • Olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Garlic has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help boost the immune system.
  • Lemon juice adds a bright, tangy flavor and provides vitamin C.
  • Parmesan cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, but it's also high in saturated fat and sodium.

To make this recipe even healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of parmesan cheese or replace it with a lower-fat alternative like nutritional yeast.
  • Use a lighter hand with the olive oil, or replace some of it with water or vegetable broth to reduce the calorie and fat content.
  • Add more vegetables to the pesto, such as spinach, basil, or roasted red peppers, to increase the nutrient density and flavor profile.
  • Serve the pesto over whole grain pasta, zucchini noodles, or a bed of roasted vegetables for a balanced and satisfying meal.
  • Experiment with different nuts and seeds, like walnuts, almonds, or pumpkin seeds, to vary the texture and nutrient profile of the pesto.

Our Editor's Opinion on This Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe

This kale pecan pesto recipe is a delightful twist on traditional pesto. The combination of hearty kale and rich pecans creates a robust and earthy flavor profile, while the addition of lemon juice adds a refreshing brightness. The texture is perfectly balanced, and the incorporation of parmesan cheese brings a savory depth to the pesto. It's a versatile sauce that can elevate a simple pasta dish or be used as a flavorful spread. Overall, this recipe offers a delicious and nutritious alternative to classic pesto, making it a wonderful addition to any culinary repertoire.

Enhance Your Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a hint of roasted garlic, perfect for pairing with the flavorful kale pecan pesto.
Grilled Lemon Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears grilled to perfection with a zesty lemon flavor, a refreshing side to complement the rich pesto sauce.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and caramelized carrots drizzled with a honey glaze, adding a touch of natural sweetness to balance the savory pesto dish.

Delicious Alternatives to Kale Pecan Pesto

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad: Combine roasted vegetables with cooked quinoa for a hearty and nutritious salad.
Balsamic Glazed Salmon: Marinate salmon in a balsamic glaze and then grill or bake for a flavorful and healthy main dish.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding: Mix chia seeds with coconut milk and fresh mango for a delicious and refreshing dessert or breakfast option.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for This Pesto Recipe

Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Spinach Artichoke Dip: Indulge in the creamy and cheesy goodness of this spinach artichoke dip, served warm with crispy tortilla chips or toasted bread. A crowd-pleasing appetizer that will leave everyone coming back for more.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Apple Crisp: Savor the warm and comforting flavors of a homemade apple crisp, with tender baked apples and a crispy oat topping. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of sweetness and warmth.

Why trust this Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe:

This kale pecan pesto recipe offers a delightful fusion of flavors and textures. The vibrant kale provides a powerhouse of nutrients, while the rich, buttery pecans add a satisfying crunch. The zesty lemon juice and pungent garlic elevate the pesto's taste, complemented by the smoothness of olive oil and the savory notes of parmesan cheese. Trust in the harmonious blend of these wholesome ingredients to create a pesto that's both nutritious and delicious.

Share your thoughts on the Kale Pecan Pesto Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know how it turned out for you!
Can I substitute the kale with another leafy green?
Yes, you can substitute the kale with other leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, or even basil for a different flavor profile.
Can I make this pesto without nuts for a nut-free version?
Absolutely! You can omit the pecans and still make a delicious pesto. You can also try using seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds as a nut-free alternative.
How long can I store the kale pecan pesto?
You can store the kale pecan pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze it for longer storage, just make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator before using.
Can I use a different type of cheese instead of parmesan?
Yes, you can use other hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano or Asiago as a substitute for parmesan cheese.
Is there a way to make this pesto vegan?
To make this pesto vegan, you can omit the parmesan cheese or use a vegan alternative. You can also add nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without using dairy products.

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