I’m the girlfriend you text when you’re scratching your head reading labels in the grocery store, the confidante you blurt your “I can’t tell anyone else!” bathroom shenanigans to and the handy science nerd who comes through with the best cost-cutting, time-saving health tips you don’t know how you ever lived without.
Not sure what to do with those leftover kale stems once you’ve eaten the leafy greens?
How about making this delicious Kale Stem & Basil Pesto?! I’ve been playing around with this recipe for months and think I finally nailed it! This pesto is delicious with pasta (big fan of Chickapea Pasta over here), crackers, and on sandwiches. Additionally, I will often use this kale stem pesto as a spread on my grilled veggie wraps, along with humus, as the two flavors not only complement each other nicely but are packed with nutrients.
Kale Health Benefits:
Did you know kale has a higher amount of Vitamin C than most vegetables? In fact, there is more vitamin C in a cup of chopped kale than an orange. Kale is also packed with Vitamin K — a single raw cup of kale contains almost 7 times the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K.
Kale is also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health, reduces Type 2 diabetes risk, and boosts heart health as well. It’s also loaded with calcium, magnesium, and contains quite a bit of potassium.
The trick to the perfect kale stem pesto is blanching your garlic. I find this helps to tone down the overpowering garlic flavor, especially for individuals who may have a harder time digesting raw garlic. That being said, if you’re a huge fan of garlic, skip this step and feel free to add more garlic!
How to blanch your garlic cloves?
In a medium saucepan, add garlic cloves (skin on) and water. Bring water to a boil. Once water is boiled, remove the saucepan from heat and pass garlic cloves through a strainer. Place garlic in cold water for a few minutes and once cooled, remove peel.
1/4 cup Parmesan, cut into small cubes or grated (optional)
2–3 garlic cloves, blanched
salt/pepper to taste
Remove kale leaves from stems and set aside. Cut stems into small pieces. Tip: To remove kale leaves from stem, hold kale stem in one hand and with the other strip leaves by pulling away from you. You can also use a knife but it takes longer.
Blanche garlic cloves. In a medium saucepan, add garlic cloves (skin on) and water. Bring water to a boil. Once water is boiled, remove saucepan from heat and pass garlic cloves through a strainer. Place garlic in cold water for a few minutes and once cooled, remove peel.
Place kale stems, walnuts, basil, blanched garlic cloves, and parmesan in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely ground.
Slowly add olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Do you have to use walnuts? Short answer, no. I’ll often use whatever nuts I have on hand. I’ve found sunflower seeds, almonds, and pecans taste just as delicious as walnuts.
Additionally, if you’re avoiding animal products you can also forgo the parmesan. I’ve heard nutritional yeast is often used as a substitute for parmesan but haven’t experimented with this vegan alternative in this recipe yet. Will update this recipe once having done so though as I think it could be a great and tasty substitute for anyone who is vegan and nut free.
Keywords: Kale Stem Pesto, Zero-Waste Recipe, Kale Pesto
Madeleine is a Franco-American podcaster and blogger on a mission to inspire and empower women to live healthier, more eco-friendly, and conscious lifestyles. On her blog/podcast, The Wise Consumer, she covers topics ranging from nutrition and recipes to ethical fashion and eco living tips. When not working Madeleine is either spending time with family, developing new recipes, or trail running.