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kale and pistachio pesto by food to glowNow that the shorts and flips flops have been tucked away for another year, I feel safe to resume my kale-centric posts. Although my Instagram feed is pretty much a 365 devotional diary to this heartiest and most nutritious of vegetables, I have inveigled kale into just a few warmer weather posts – e.g. my Greens and Beans Breakfast Tostados back in June.

But, seeing as my garden is almost invisible under a crunchy carpet of leaves, I feel I can be a bit bolder and once again declare my love for this cringingly-trendy {as in no longer trendy}, crinkly and fringy super-vegetable.

kale and pistachio pesto by food to glowWhy super? Other than the obvious fibre {5 % RDA per half cup}and the fact that it is incredibly green – green either denoting ridiculously good for you or horribly mouldy – kale, in common with other of what we term as ‘dark, leafy greens,’ features an abundance of nutrients and anti-cancer compounds, including numerous phytochemicals (indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane and allyl isothiocynates being the biggies), beta-carotene, Vitamins C and bone-building K (a half-cup serving contains 590% of daily requirements), calcium ( 9% of requirements per 1/2 cup), manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate and iron. It’s just compared to the other greens in its class, well, the quantity and scope of nutrients in kale makes the others look a rather pale green in comparison. In fact, kale contains 45 different flavonoids, having various anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects within the body. Its over-arching benefits can be categorised as:

  • Antioxidant properties
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Cancer prevention
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Detoxification benefits
  • Extremely versatile, being comfortable in savoury and sweet recipehomegrown kale at food to glow

But as much as I love this easy to grow, hard to kill vegetable, there can be too much of a good thing, especially if you go raw with it. Too much can affect the thyroid function of anyone, but especially of those with thyroid impairment. And the high Vitamin K content can be an issue for those taking blood thinning drugs {K promotes clotting}. Luckily however, one’s typical consumption can be factored into your dosage.

A good way to get all the benefit with none of the – small – risk is to always make sure to swap around within the dark leafys – try spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, pak choi, broccoli, calabrese. Also, cooking kale dramatically lowers the thyroid-compromising aspects, so box and cox with your cooking methods too.

Want to know more about the wonder that is kale? Check out this page on World’s Healthiest Foods for everything you ever wanted to know about kale but hadn’t really ever got around to asking…

kale and pistachio pesto by food to glow

Supergreen Kale and Pistachio Pesto

  • Difficulty: easy
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This is one of the quickest and healthiest things I make, and it is ripe for adapting to your own taste. Perhaps play around with the ‘extra’ greens, as well as the nuts {I show images for both pistachios and cashews}; add cheese if you like {about 50 grams}; use all flaxseed for a bigger omega 3 hit – its strong taste melds right in and ‘plays nicely’ with the other ingredients. Just make it.

Ideas for what to do with kale pesto – beyond pasta – are below the recipe.

75g kale of any kind, or a mix

75g natural pistachios or cashews, soaked overnight if possible {to aid digestion/nutrition}

25g mix of fresh parsley {stems removed if quite ‘leggy’} and rocket/arugula

3 garlic cloves, skinned

Juice of one juicy lemon {about 2 ½ tbsp}

2 tbsp nutritional yeast OR 1 tbsp white miso paste – optional {for a cheesy taste I sometimes alternate between the two when I make this. On this occasion I left both out}

60-75ml extra virgin olive oil OR 35ml evoo and 35ml flax oil

1. Remove the tough ribs from the kale leaves. I do this by laying each piece flat and running a cook’s knife alongside each side of the rib. Chop the kale.

2. Heat just a few inches of water in a pan until boiling; add the kale pieces. Bring back to the boil then quickly drain {save the water} and rinse under running cold water. No need to give it an ice bath {this helps preserve the colour} but I do if I have the time. The cooking of the kale makes it a brighter green, a bit more digestible to some, and it also seems to make the pesto last longer without spoiling. But, use it raw if you wish. I use the kale water instead of extra oil to thin the pesto when adding a few tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta. You could also pop it in a container and add it to a green smoothie the next day.kale and pistachio pesto by food to glow

3. Drain the pistachios or cashews and add everything but half of the oil to a food processor or blender {like my beloved Froothie}, and pulse until you have a mostly smooth paste. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of your blender or processor.

4. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in the remaining oil to keep it fairly loose. Adding all of the oil at once makes it thicker and paler in colour, which is fine of course.kale and pistachio pesto by food to glow

5. Spoon the pesto into a sterilised lidded jar and top with just enough olive oil to cover. If you know you will be using it all up within the week, you don’t have to bother doing this. You can also freeze the pesto by dolloping into an ice cube tray, freezing and then popping out the green cubes into a labeled bag.

Uses other than with pasta: as a dip for other vegetables and pitta chips; as a sandwich spread; mixed into a wholegrain and vegetable salad; spooned into vegetable soup, lasagne, or a vegetable bake; mixed into a cheese/cheeze sauce; stuffed into hollowed out baby peppers and roasted; stirred through hot steamed or roasted vegetables; mixed with mashed avocado and stuffed into a baked potato. You get the idea. This pesto is not just for pasta!


More kale on food to glow:

Kale, Sour Cherry and Cocoa Smoothie

Spicy and Tangy Korean Kale Crisps

Sweet Potato and Kale Open Tarts

Spanish Greens and Potato Soup {Caldo Gallego}

Butternut Squash, Kale and Black Bean Tacos with a Japanese Twist

Green Passion Smoothie

Kale-Berry Smoothie

The Red Reviver {Kale and Cranberry Juice}

Gardener’s Green Shakshuka

Spicy Kale and Egg Breakfast

Greens and Squash Gnocchi with Chilli and Roquefort


Related posts from others:

Rocket Hummus – Tinned Tomatoes

Cauliflower Pea Pesto – Tinned Tomatoes

Nasturtium Pesto – The Botanical Baker

Kale and Walnut Pesto – The Muffin Myth

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Froothie and some links in this article may be affiliate links. However, as always, all product reviews are based on my honest opinion. If you’d like to know more about Froothie products, or this machine in particular, please visit the Froothie website for more details. Any purchases made through this/these link(s) are at no extra cost to you but give Food To Glow a small bit of money to keep the site afloat and developing healthy recipes to share. Thanks!

kale and pistachio pesto by food to glow

55 thoughts on “Supergreen Kale and Pistachio Pesto {vegan}

  1. This is really wonderful! I have been making all kinds of pesto’s and kale was on my ‘to do’ list. Like how you used cashews. And nutritional yeast or miso is a brilliant idea. This recipe is very well thought out with the blanching and using the water to help thin out the pesto rather than more oil. I like how you cook… 🙂

    1. Thanks for your very kind comment. Do try your pesto with kale – such a different taste to basil, but it makes a really nice change.

  2. Wonderful recipe! So good&healthy, thanks for it! Maybe you wanna check out my blog: ❤️

  3. thespicyrd says:

    Lovely pesto! Although I am trying to mix up my greens these days (has Broccoleaf come to Scotland???) I will never tire of kale. Next up, I need to check out your Caldo Galego recipe-loved eating big bowls of that on my Camino trek!

    1. Broccoleaf was ‘invented’ here! One of our up-market food stores developed it a few years ago. It’s gorgeous and so cute! I’m so behind on my blog reading it’s not funny. I will stop by very soon and read more about your trip. Such wonderful pix on IG. 🙂

  4. mprocter222 says:

    I love this!!! Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to make but I’ve never though about making it with Kale. Great Post!!!

  5. Yum !! Looks great, I will try soon 😉

  6. Sandy Liang says:

    Refreshing look to pasta, great post!

  7. This is fab Kellie! I do love my kale pesto!

  8. narf77 says:

    Just planted out red kale and regular kale seeds that will (hopefully) grace the veggie garden and be regulars on the dinner table. Cheers for this tasty share and for sharing more about this interesting and most over advertised of veggies. I usually wait till the trending stops till I try things. I leave the hype to die down and the die hard fans come out with amazing recipes that do justice to the once trendy item. Cheers for being die hard 😉

    1. I am not bothered one way or the other with trends, as befits a person of my great age! But if I like something, find it useful, then I will continue championing it regardless of what Goop, HuffPost, Buzzfeed or others tell us what we should or shouldn’t be eating or doing. I hope those pesky Tasmanian bugs and pests stay away from your precious crops, esp the kale {I’ve had to plant out all new crops for winter…}. I see that you and Steve have been working full-tilt in the garden {and Steve being very manly with his carpentry}. Enjoy your burgeoning spring!

      1. narf77 says:

        When the possums were able to invade Poland (Sanctuary) they studiously avoided the garlic and the kale. I reckon kale is an acquired taste for our native animals…one that they don’t fancy acquiring 😉

  9. Delish! I’m so intrigued by the idea of adding miso to pesto, will definitely have to try this combo sometime soon. Thanks for the link love, my dear!

    1. I just add a touch, Katie. Not enough to know what it is, but just for that extra umami thing. And you are very welcome for the link love. I couldn’t not include your lovely recipe!

  10. Cooksister says:

    Oh I love kale so much… Did not grow up with it but have enthusiastically taken to it since moving to this country – long before it was “famous” 😉 Also ate a lot of it when I was healing my broken leg as Vitamin K is great for bones – yet another health benefit! Checked with hubby tonight and we still have kale on the allotment so I will definitely be trying this!

    1. Jeanne, poor you with your broken leg! I am chuffed to think that your intake of kale will have helped with your healing. K is such an easy vitamin to get that it is relatively unsung {people are often surprised there is a K!}, but it is vital along with D and calcium for good bone health. But it is pesky how it can interfere with such a common drug. But at least it is easily factored in to dosage.

  11. lizzygoodthings says:

    Great timing, Kellie, I have so much kale in the garden! Your pesto sounds really good.

  12. Such a vibrant green pesto! I really need to plant some kale here, seeing as the Swiss don’t like to sale it at the markets. I like that you offer a caution for eating too much kale without swapping it out on occasion. That is key, thank you!

    1. Grow it and be smug that you don’t have to rely on fickle stores! I wouldn’t be without it now that I know how easy it is for me to grow and not kill!

  13. I’ve never had kale pesto. My kids love pesto so I’ll try this for them and I bet they love it. I really like reading your descriptions of why foods are healthy and your pictures are gorgeous, too.

    1. Thanks so much, Katherine. Kale might be a bit strong for small children, but you never know! Maybe pair it with ‘normal’ basil?

  14. I’ve been eating a version of my kale and almond pesto all week. Such a great way of getting them greens in (and in a cooked way!) lovely pics Kellie!

    1. Thanks Ceri. Kale pesto is such a great little perker-upper. 🙂

  15. pumpkinandpb says:

    Looks so simple and healthy… I must try soon 🙂

  16. I Seriously love kale but I had to look up “Box and Cox”. It’s my new my expression! Thanks Kellie

    1. Just why I added the hyperlink! It is such a great way to express the need to ‘chop and change’ and I adopted it soon after moving here some 26 years ago. A great expression. The British have many wonderful ways of expressing common situations.

  17. premojas says:

    Reblogged this on Dear Beloveds.

  18. Sally says:

    This is one of those dishes that make you feel healthier just looking at it Kellie 🙂

  19. this will most certainly be on the menu this week, it looks fantastic. I havent any kale in the garden though – I tell you what makes me grumble – when supermarkets sell bags of kale all chopped up! I want it in whole leaves, not all dried up and leached out, please tell them Miss K 🙂

    1. Well, Miss Nikki. Tesco {!!} have intact Cavolo Nero in their Corstorphine store. `Sometimes Waitrose does too, but I think they run out quicker than Tescopolis.

  20. Ah kale, I really should use it more. Such a superfood. I love this recipe, beautiful styling (cutlery and bowl envy) and the pesto looks amazing, too.

    1. Well, it is I who is usually jealous of your styling and cutlery! Thanks for stopping by, Ren.

  21. Deena Kakaya says:

    you know what, I have been sent piles of kale recently and I guiltily shove them to the back of the fridge; it is actually because I am not the biggest fan of kale. I want to get into it because my husband is keen on it and I just have so much! I have to say I like the idea of pesto because the texture is more approachable this way and the bitterness made sweeter with the pistachios-and I LOVE pistachio. xx

    1. Deena, I have tons of recipes in the Index and one may pique your interest {or hubby’s}. Katie at The Muffin Myth is also quite a prolific kale user so jump over there for inspiration. I eat kale nearly every day and credit it partly for not succumbing to the bugs and coughs that do the rounds. It is worth finding a palatable way to include it in your diet 😉

  22. Beautiful! One of the things I love so much about Kale Pesto is how it stays nice and green (besides how yummy it is!)

  23. This is stunning! Your pictures are amazing! This is such a good dinner for a weeknight!

  24. I love new ways to use kale!!

  25. Larice says:

    Gorgeous photos, Kellie! I’m new to your site, all your recipes look amazing. I love experimenting with different types of plant-based pestos, and this one looks like a dandy! Will be trying it soon!

    1. Thanks so much, Larice! I’m glad you found me and that you took the time to comment. Much appreciated. 🙂

  26. Shannon says:

    On a whim last summer, while living in a small apartment temporarily, I made kale pesto using roasted pistachios (the only nut I had in the pantry at the time) then froze them into ice cube trays. Delicious combo! I would thaw a couple cubes and spread on toast for a tasty breakfast treat. You remind me I need to do this again.

    1. Shannon says:

      PS – I so enjoy your post photos! Such thought and effort put in, it seems. Very inviting.

  27. That looks fabulous, not just delicious but like it would do me good as I ate it! As luck would have it I have kale and pistachios in the larder.

  28. Kale is so great, I love it raw and cooked equally. It is one of my favourite greens but I still haven’t tried adding it to a pesto, I am hoping the kids would enjoy this as it is so packed full of goodness!

  29. platedujour says:

    Kellie I really like that old fork! It’s a lovely prop, where did you buy it? It’s a great pesto recipe. I’ve never tried kale before, will have to give it a try for sure. Have a nice weekend xx

  30. ps366607 says:

    Love your blog! Making healthy eating pleasurable:-)

  31. Mmm I love variations on pesto. I bet this would be great on salmon too! Every now and then I make a pesto with arugula and sunflower seeds – you should try it!

    1. That is alas a great combination. The bite of arugula/rocket with the mildness of sunflower seeds is awesome

  32. crasterkipper says:

    Thanks for the lovely recipe. I received a huge bag of kale from a neighbour’s allotment and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I tried a very basic version, with just extra kale, nuts, garlic, lemon and oil. It is supremely tasty. I wonder how long you can keep a sealed jar? I presume also, that it must be stored in the fridge, even if in sterilised kilner jars?

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Lucky you getting a big bag of homegrown kale. My crop was fairly rubbish this year. Not enough watering. Anyway, yes about a week, but could go longer if oil covers the top. Try it with some gnocchi next 😊

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