Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cheap & Tasty Kale Pesto

I don’t know why I’ve not thought to do this before now.  I spent five pretty fun years working in a funky restaurant in my late teens where one of my favourite things to eat was a grilled cheese sammich with pesto…and somehow I have not had one since.  Really?!

How did this happen?!


Probably because I’m too cheap frugal to make real basil pesto and it’s not something I think would be good from a jar. 

I’ve made spinach pesto in the past so I thought kale would probably work too.  Turns out I’m right…it’s super yumm-o!  Of course, it also turns out that I did indeed see the idea on Pinterest, so I can’t claim full recognition for this genius idea.  Dammit.

But at the very least I whipped up my recipe before I looked at my boards and confirmed my suspicions that I truly don’t have any original ideas. :)


Kale and Almond Pesto

yields 8 servings, 1/4 cup each

inspired by Raw Food Recipes


  • 1 large bunch fresh kale, washed, trimmed from stems, and torn into large pieces (approximately 8 loose cups)
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, pan toasted
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese, grated (parmesan or asiago would work too!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • optional: pinch of cayenne


  1. Using a food processor or good blender chop the almonds.  Remove and set aside.  In the same processor chop the kale. 
  2. Add the almonds back to the processor along with the minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper, and cayenne (if using).  Whirl in processor until well minced and mixed. 
  3. Set processor to low speed and drizzle in olive oil slowly to saturate.  Scrape down sides if necessary, then add grated cheese and whirl just to combine.

Note:  I kept the olive oil quantity light to help keep the calories down, but if you want a true wet pesto add more oil.

MyFitnessPal tells me this recipe works out to around 135 calories per serving.


Personally I think the almonds are what make this work, but the fresh, rich taste of the kale lends itself quite well to the mix too!  Whatever it is I think I might like it better than regular pesto.  It’s probably because almonds and kale are a fraction the cost of basil and pine nuts.  Cheaper tastes better!


Now my mind is spinning with ideas for this bowl of green goodness.

Start by mixing a large scoop of the pesto with a spoonful of olive oil mayo, then slather it on your favourite bread (you know mine was Squirrelly) with a layer of old white cheddar and make yourself the bestest grilled cheese EVER.

Yes, EVER.  Possibly better than that dreamy sammich of my teen years.


What are your favourite uses for pesto?

I plan to make pasta with goat cheese, pesto bean dip, and about six more of those sandwiches.

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Anonymous said...

Grilled cheese with pesto (and tomato!) is probably my most fav sandwich, ever! Especially if you cook it in a panini press OR a grill press. YUMMERS!

April said...

Yes, yes yes! I need to use some kale tonight before it goes bad.

Angie All The Way said...

I've heard of kale pesto before, but you've lit the fire under my bum to actually make it! I bet Cameron would gobble up that grilled cheese in a heart beat :-)

For your MFP calculation, how "light" did you go on the EVOO? How many servings?

Angie All The Way said...

Update: I just had a grilled cheese with kale pesto mayo, cranberry goat cheese + thinly sliced apple and it was awesome. Cameron's has kale pesto mayo, old cheddar and apple and he's gobbling it up as we speak.

Now I want another one!

Kathy, NM said...

I make pesto out of all the greens — arugula, mustards, parsleys, spinach — but chard is the best (personally)! I also substitute sunflower seeds and occasionally toasted pumpkin seed for the nuts. Now that's frugal, and good! Also, any soft cheeses, such as cottage and ricotta, work fine, allowing you to use less olive oil, if you wish. Pesto is VERY flexible (& freezable)! Food processor preferred. ~ Kathy, NM