I love turning kale into a delicious, vegan kale pesto. If you have kale, cashews, and an avocado, you can make this creamy, healthy vegan kale pesto in a heartbeat!
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Modern take for pesto lovers: We all love basil pesto, but if you want to switch things up a bit, this kale pesto recipe is a great one to add to your list!
- Vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free as written: The recipe can accommodate several dietary restrictions as written, and great when paired with any pasta!
- Super customizable: I've included variations here to make this recipe nut-free, and written directions using a wide range of ingredients
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need kale, avocado, nuts, garlic, and olive oil for this recipe (along with salt, pepper and lemon juice for seasoning).
Substitutions and notes:
- Choice of nuts: The recipe as written uses walnuts, because the nuttiness goes great with the flavors of kale, but you can easily swap with cashews or pistachios. Or you can go totally nut-free, and use pepitas (sunflower seeds).
- Creaminess and cheesiness: Traditional pesto uses parmesan cheese, but I have omitted that in the recipe because the avocados make this plenty creamy. However, if you like, you can add any mild vegan cheese of your choice to the pesto.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
What can you use pesto for?
Well, to be honest? Everything! This vegan kale pesto is super versatile. I've definitely used it for more than just pasta (though it tastes darn delicious on pasta). I've used it as a healthy vegan dip, a spread for sandwiches, and as a base sauce for pizza (slather on top of some homemade naan and you're in business). Check out this other post for eight ways to use pesto (that's not pasta!) in your cooking everyday!
How long does pesto last?
When stored in an airtight container, pesto lasts up to a week in the fridge. Homemade pesto doesn't have preservatives, so the shelf life is a bit shorter than storebought.
You can freeze pesto if you'd like to extend it's shelf life up to a month. I personally love freezing pesto in ice cube trays since it's easier to portion that way. Please note that the texture might be different depending on the ingredients. Bring it out and thaw fully before using and don't reheat it if you can avoid it.
Can you reheat pesto?
You could, but I recommend that you don't. While it's not a huge difference, I've noticed that the pesto gets a bit more "oily" when reheated. What I usually do is bring it out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating. Then, I serve it on something warm (like pasta or toast) to bring up the temperature more naturally.
If you like this recipe, you'll enjoy some of these other pasta dishes as well:
Kale Pesto (Vegan, Nut Free Options Included)
- 2 cups kale, shredded (roughly one bunch, but you don't need to be precise here!)
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 - 2 cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup water, to help blend (if using blender vs. food processor)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- lemon juice, one wedge
- Add the kale, nuts and spoon the avocado and garlic into the food processor and start pulsing. If you're using a blender, add all the ingredients and some water to blend.
- Slowly add olive oil through the spout of the food processor. If you don't have a food processor with a spout, just add it in small increments into the bowl and then pulse.
- Squeeze a bit of lemon once it's blended to the right consistency - you can make it as smooth or chunky as you like it
- People like different consistencies for their pesto - I typically like mine to have a bit of bite to it (this takes about 1.5 minutes to blend in my Vitamix). If you want it smoother, you can blend a bit more on a higher setting (or add a bit more olive oil)
- I've suggested adding water to help with the blending - this is to help soften the kale leaves as you're blending. Feel free to leave out if your blender can accomplish this without water!