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Kale Stem Pesto Recipe

Kale Stem & Basil Pesto

  • Author: The Wise Consumer
  • Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 bunch kale stems, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 bunches basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, cut into small cubes or grated (optional)
  • 23 garlic cloves, blanched
  • salt/pepper to taste


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Place kale stems, walnuts, basil, blanched garlic cloves, and parmesan in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely ground.
  4. Slowly add olive oil. 
  5. 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. 

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 5


  • Serving Size: 5
  • Calories: 303
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Fiber: 4 g

Keywords: Kale Stem Pesto, Zero-Waste Recipe, Kale Pesto