A spoon of kale and walnut pesto

Kale and Walnut Pesto

At midnight on a Sunday evening riding the tube from Central London out to the suburbs you get to see a lot of different people. Musicians clutching violin cases, dressed in black tie. The knackered photographer who has spent the day wandering around London looking for that iconic shot, now asleep with camera bag carelessly tossed at his feet. Even a young couple cooing over their brand new kitten which is being gently cradled in the young woman’s arms. Then there is me, looking tired, a little tipsy, and with slightly burnt nose from being out in the summer sun. I love people watching on the tube and trying to work out what everyone’s story is. Perhaps the musician had played at some grand ball attended by royalty? Is the photographer actually famous and well regarded in his field, his face anonymous as it’s always behind the camera? When I’ve finished guessing the stories of those in my carriage I look at myself in the reflection of the tube window. I wonder what they are all thinking about me? The likelihood is I just look pretty unremarkable, but when I work through all of the possible options it reminds me you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Just like this recipe for Kale and Walnut Pesto…

A spoon of kale and walnut pesto

When I started playing around with the classic pesto recipe, Jon wasn’t entirely convinced. He couldn’t understand why I’d want to change a recipe that is so popular. I’m sure that some of you will already be thinking that it is sacrilege that I’d dare call this a recipe for pesto at all.

“Definition: pesto / noun / pɛstəʊ

a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, typically served with pasta.”

After all, pine nuts and basil are no where in sight. But, I ask you to not judge a book by its cover – or a recipe by its name – and to let me tell you how good this Kale and Walnut Pesto is.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Recipe

The vivid green colour of the sauce should remind you of a classic basil pesto. The difference however comes in the texture and taste. Depending on how powerful your food processor is, you will probably find this recipe a little coarser than a classic pesto. That’s because the kale doesn’t quite blend down as smoothly as basil. How smooth you want to make it is up to you – just leave it in your food processor a little longer to get the texture you’d like. The kale also gives a more earthy taste and it’s not quite as sweet as pesto made with basil. The toasted walnuts also add more of a nutty element to the sauce as well as subtle creaminess you need to bring the kale together with the smooth and silky olive oil. The raw garlic provides a bit of warmth, and the lemon juice helps to cut through the pesto making sure it’s not too rich. The salty Parmesan seasons the sauce, finishing it off.

Whilst this is how I love to make my Kale and Walnut Pesto, keep tasting as you add the ingredients so you can decide whether it needs any additional seasoning, or perhaps a little more garlic or lemon juice. Don’t be afraid to add more olive oil either. I prefer my pesto to be like a paste than a runny sauce which you can see from the photos. If you do make any variations when you try this recipe I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Bowl of Kale and Walnut PestoThe Recipe

Kale and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

  • 100g raw kale
  • 100g walnuts (toasted)
  • 50g Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice of a large lemon
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

  1. Simply place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz for 3 – 5 minutes or until you have reached the desired consistency. Taste before adding any salt and pepper to season, if required.
  2. The pesto can be eaten immediately or stored in a steralised jar and topped with a little more olive oil for up to a week (if you don’t eat it before then).
  3. This pesto also freezes well and can be kept in your freezer for up to a month. Freeze in ice cube trays for individual portions of pesto.
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There are so many different ways you can use my Kale and Walnut Pesto. Of course the obvious way to eat it is stirred through pasta or courgettini (spaghetti made from courgette). It’s also great in a sandwich, spread between two slices of seeded bread with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes. Alternatively use it on top of crostini. You could also use it in a salad dressing or on top of a pizza!

While Kale and Walnut Pesto might sound like an odd combination, don’t knock it before you’ve tried it. And the next time you are people watching on the tube, think out of the box. Perhaps the short 20 something girl sat next to you is quite as average as she looks…she could even be me thinking up the next way to jazz up a jar of pesto…

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Bowl of Kale and Walnut Pesto

 

More pesto inspiration!

If you enjoyed this recipe why not check out these 10 “alternative” pesto recipes:

  1. Hemp Seed Pesto from Rough Measures
  2. Seaweed Pesto from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
  3. Wild Garlic Pesto from Foodie Quine
  4. Rocket and Walnut Pesto from Knead Whine
  5. Spinach-Cashew Pesto from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
  6. Rose Petal Pesto from Recipes from a Pantry
  7. Kale and Almond Pesto from Anne’s Kitchen
  8. Walnut and Rosemary Pesto from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
  9. Dairy Free Broccoli Pesto from Penelope’s Pantry
  10. Wasabi and Watercress Pesto from Emily’s Recipes and Reviews

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my Kale and Walnut Pesto below!

27 comments

  1. Kale and Walnut Pesto! Brilliant! You know how much I adore kale and this recipe is a must! I’ve always enjoyed the basil pesto I grew up with but I’ve never thought to make pesto with kale! Thanks for mentioning my favorite veg!
    All my very best!
    *Lia

  2. Thanks for adding my pesto link – yours looks delicious, I always seem to change my mind if I like walnuts or not but can imagine them being toasted is a great improvement 🙂

    1. Aww thank you! You should give it a go. They don’t provide an overwhelming flavour at all so I’d definitely recommend it even if you aren’t a walnut lover 🙂

  3. I love variations on the traditional pesto and I think I actually make it slightly differently each time I make it depending on what nuts and green vegetables/herbs I have at home. I haven’t used kale much but I love the sound of it in here.

    1. Hi Corina! I also love recipes that can be chopped and changed depending on what you have in the fridge or cupboards. This is a fantastic recipe for this 🙂

  4. Love this idea Emma. I’ve made all sorts of pestos, but not yet kale. Sage and walnut works well and I can see how walnuts would be a good pairing for kale too – you need something robust to stand up to kale.

    1. Thanks Choclette 😀 im a huge kale fan so any excuse to get it into dinner and im there. Its nice to mix things up a bit no more basil and pine nuts 🙂

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