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Kale Stem Pesto With Basil

Kale Stem Pesto over Pasta

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Not sure what to do with those leftover kale stems once you’ve eaten the leafy greens?

How about making this delicious Kale Stem Pesto?! I’ve been playing around with this recipe for months and think I finally nailed it! This pesto is delicious with pasta, crackers, and on sandwiches. 


Units Scale
  • 1 bunch of kale stems, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 23 bunches basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, cut into small cubes or grated
  • 23 garlic cloves, blanched (see method below)
  • Salt and 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. Blanch garlic cloves. Note: I like to blanch garlic cloves for this pesto as I find raw garlic too overpowering and harsh. Blanching garlic helps to mellow the taste without losing the delicious garlic flavor.
    How to blanche garlic cloves? In a medium saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling drop garlic cloves (with skin on) into the water. Boil garlic for about 5 minutes. Remove garlic cloves from saucepan and once cooled, remove peel. 
  3. In a food processor, combine the kale stems, blanched garlic, walnuts, basil leaves, and parmesan cheese. Pulse the mixture until the ingredients are finely ground.
  4. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Continue processing until the oil is fully incorporated.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Process mixture until ingredients are fully combined and you obtain a smooth consistency. 


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