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Simply Savor: Easy Kale Pesto

By Yitong Zhang, Dietetic Intern

This super simple kale pesto recipe puts a healthy spin on the traditional pesto recipe, by using kale in place of basil.

Ingredient Highlights

Kale: Kale is a nutritious cruciferous vegetable rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene (i). It contains nutrients that can support eye health, weight management, heart health, and more. Loaded with important micronutrients and antioxidants, kale is one of the most nutritious leafy greens available (i).

Walnuts: Walnuts are exceptionally nutritious nuts. They contain high amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fats (ii). This rich nutrient profile contributes to the many health benefits associated with walnuts, such as reduced inflammation, cancer, and risk of heart disease (ii).



  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and garlic until the walnuts are ground up. Add the cheese, salt, and several grinds of pepper and pulse again.
  2. Add the kale and lemon juice. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil, and process until combined. Season to taste.


  • If the kale pesto is too bitter, add ¼ teaspoon of maple syrup or honey
  • Makes 1 cup
  • Leftover pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months.


[i] American Institute for Cancer Research. (2021, August 2). Kale: rich in antioxidants. https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/food-facts/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/#:~:text=Kale%3A%20Rich%20in%20Antioxidants,protective%20compounds%20of%20cruciferous%20vegetables.

[ii] American Institute for Cancer Research. (2023, January 27). Walnuts: Support a Cancer-Preventive diet. https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/food-facts/walnuts/

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