Spinach Kale Pesto Recipe

by valentina on June 22, 2011

Post image for Spinach Kale Pesto Recipe

When I was growing up, my parents grew beautiful basil in their garden.  (And they still do.)  So naturally, my mom made a ton of beautiful basil pesto!  It became a tradition to have the pesto on English muffins topped with thick slices of sweet, heirloom tomatoes (also from their garden).  This yummy dinner tradition is still a meaningful part of our summers.  I love that.

Since I so enjoy experimenting with different ingredients, I’ve made many different pesto sauces over the years, and this one is my favorite — next to my mom’s, of course!  Both spinach and kale are so incredibly good for you!  Eating these two delicious leafy greens is just like eating a bunch of vitamins! Really, they’re so healthy!

Spread it on toast or your sandwich, serve it with grilled fish, chicken, or steak, sauce your pasta with it, mix it into your eggs, eat it with a spoon — it’s all divine!

Basil pesto is typically made with pine nuts.  I use almonds here.  Different flavorful leaves, different tasty nuts, the possibilities are endless! Try different cheeses too!  Whatever inspires you!

Spinach Kale Pesto Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 cups


1/2 cup blanched, toasted almonds

about 1-1/2 dozen large, fresh black kale leaves

3 cups firmly packed, fresh spinach leaves

6 small to medium, peeled garlic cloves, with roots removed

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spread the nuts out evenly on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, place the nuts in the oven and roast them until they are very aromatic and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stay with them, though, because they can go from perfect to burnt quickly! (This is an important step because toasting nuts brings their oils and natural sugars to the surface, greatly enhancing their flavor!)
  2. Wash and dry the spinach and kale. Remove any tough stems from the kale and break the leaves into smaller pieces.
  3. In a food processor, make the pesto by blending the spinach and kale with the toasted almonds, garlic, Parmesan, tomato paste, lemon juice and sugar. Then gradually pour in the oil and blend until smooth. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.


I love a lot of garlic, but you can use as much or little as you'd like. Or you can use roasted garlic for a more mellow, sweeter flavor.

Any variety of kale will work for this recipe, but black kale is my favorite.



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

amee June 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

This is really a great recipe. As a vegetarian, I’m always trying to get in my leafy greens. We’ve been eating spinach pesto for a couple of years now, but KALE is even better!!! I also like your tip on toasting the nuts first.


valentina June 23, 2011 at 3:31 am

Thanks Amee! It’s great with just kale, too — stronger flavor. :-)


Diane (Created by Diane) June 24, 2011 at 5:41 am

Great idea, I love pesto and I will sure be trying it with kale and spinach.


Lana June 27, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I have been greedily buying kale every time I am the the farmers’ market – cannot get enough! As we love pesto, I might sacrifice a bunch to try it out, as I don’t doubt that it will be wonderful! I’ve made spinach pesto before, using walnuts instead of pine nuts, but kale will be something new.
It looks great on your photos:)


valentina June 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Thanks, Lana, I hope you like it. I make a ton at once and use it on everything for a couple weeks! :-)


Melinda July 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Rainy Sunday morning. Bought Kale and Spinach yesterday to make your recipe. It’s so delicious; my husband and I ate spoonfuls like it was frosting. Swapped pine nuts for almonds and added one more medium clove of garlic. This recipe rocks! Thank you.


valentina July 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

So happy you loved this pesto! Enjoy the rain! I eat it with a spoon, too! :-)


Linda K. Smith November 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Maybe we ALL eat pesto with a spoon–I do too. When I’m living
in Mexico I often can’t get basil that’s very good, but I do get GREAT
cilantro, which makes a terrific pesto. Delicious, with an extra beautiful
green color. Pine nuts are still perfect with cilantro.


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