As summer winds down, most of us are looking for ways to use up all those wonderful in-season local veggies (even ones you grew in your own garden) and this spinach and kale pesto recipe is a great way to take advantage of the cheap, plentiful and fresh ingredients! I have made my creamy kale pasta several times this summer and
One of the best things about pesto is how fresh it taste, but that usually comes from the basil. This is more of a savory pesto for sure, but in a super delicious way. That said, you could certainly use more basil, spinach or lemon if you want to pump up that fresh flavor. Although they aren’t usually in a traditional pesto, green onions would also be good and I use them all the time for their fresh flavor!
You’ll need to blanch the kale to remove some of the bitterness and slightly tenderize it. Blanching and shocking in an ice bath also makes the green color a little more vibrant, so you wind up with a nicer looking final dish. Here’s how to do it:
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the kale, turn off the heat and let sit for three minutes. While the kale is sitting, fill a sink about halfway with water and throw in some ice. Using a large slotted spoon or small colander, scoop the kale out of the hot water and plunge it right down into the ice water. Drain it very well and dry in a large towel to remove all the excess water. It’s very important to get this as dry as possible so you don’t have water at the bottom of your pesto.
You will never get this as smooth as a basil or spinach pesto. It will have more texture and be a little more coarse.
You’ll want to taste the finished pesto before adding salt and pepper, especially the salt. Parmesan cheese has quite a bit of salt in it, so you won’t need as much as you think.
Since all kale is different in size, the amount of olive oil you’ll need will probably be different. Just keep adding a little at a time until the pesto finally comes together. I let mine blend for about 30 seconds between each cycle of scraping the sides and adding more olive oil.
Scroll down for the recipe!
- 12 large stalks of kale, blanched
- Large handful of fresh spinach leaves
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
- ¾ - 1 cup of olive oil
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add the kale and half of the olive oil to a food processor. Pulse to break down the kale as much as possible, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until they are completely broken down. Add more olive oil as necessary and scrape the sides several times. It took me about 10 cycles of blending and scraping to get mine to a consistency I liked. I added about a cup of olive oil total.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving.