Do you know what’s delicious? Olive oil, parmesan, nuts, lemon and a lot of black pepper. Oh, and something green in the mix too.

Last week I was talking to my mother on the phone, when she happened to mention that my cousin had made kale pesto for the family over the weekend. I promptly filed that away in my head as “something I’d like to try.”

So, when my husband and I went to our favorite vegetable booth at the farmers market and loaded up on basil, parsley and huge-mongo scallions, I remembered that pesto inspiration when my husband reached for a bunch of kale.

“We need kale, right?” he asked.


I remembered that we had a bunch of kale (that was larger than our two heads combined) on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

“Nope. We really don’t need any more kale.”

When I got home, I wrestled the kale from the confines of the shelf with only 1 jar of pickles and 1 jar of peanut butter as collateral damage. Kale freedom!

Then I jumped into “pesto-making” mode. When I was done, we didn’t even bother to make pasta to go along with it. The pesto was so flavorful we just ate it slathered on crusty bread and called that dinner.

It was a good meal.

Kale, Parsley and Basil Pesto

Makes approximately 2 cups


  • 8 leaves of kale, stripped from the stalk and roughly chopped
  • 1 baby onion* or garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup of parmesan, shredded
  • ½ cup of fresh basil
  • ½ cup of fresh parsley, rough stems removed
  • ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of crushed almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of hot smoked paprika

*The baby onion gives this pesto a surprising garlic “bite” without being “garlicky.” It was pretty neat. If you’re not a fan of garlic, like me, keep that in mind for substitutions in recipes.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 1½ minutes. Remove the kale with a slotted spoon, and place it in an ice bath.


Drain the kale and squeeze all the moisture from it. Roughly chop again, and place it in a food processor. Add the onion or garlic, parmesan, basil, parsley, ¼ cup of olive oil, almond, lemon juice, black pepper and paprika. Process until smooth. Add the additional ¼ cup of olive oil if it’s too dry.

(Photos by Launie K.)