Lacinato Kale Pesto is a spin on the traditional Genoese pesto. Take some green leaves, extra virgin olive oil, some pine nuts, a little garlic, add some Italian aged cheese and you have yourself a green sauce that will elevate any dish and will give you those healthy fats and polyphenols you need on a daily basis. The green leaves of cavolo nero (also known as Tuscan or Lacinato kale) replaces basil and it does not disappoint. Simply DELICIOUS!

The kale, which has a sweet and nutty quality, is quickly blanched in boiling water to amp up the flavours and soften the crisp leaves. Pulsed in a food processor with garlic and olive oil, the pesto tastes amazing with small pasta, like farfalle, volanti or penne. This dish is a great comfort food and is easily whipped up on a weeknight when you’d rather spend your time binge-watching Modern Love.

Lacinto Tuscan kale

Lacinato Kale Pesto

I hope you will LOVE this pesto as much as I do. It’s:

  • Fresh & big on flavor
  • Versatile
  • Packed with greens — yes, super healthy!
  • Cheesy
  • Garlicky
  • & most of all super delicious

Lacinato Kale Pesto with Pasta

Uses for Lacinto Kale Pesto

  • This kale pesto recipe is a delicious way to pack in some greens this winter. You can use pesto for so much more than just pasta. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Toss it with spaghetti squash or warm pasta and top with diced tomatoes for added fresh flavours
  • Use it as pizza sauce or spread it on any sandwich
  • Mash it with avocado and spread it on toast
  • Serve it with roasted potatoes or mushroom caps
  • Toss it with white beans
5 from 5 votes

Lacinato Kale Pesto - quick, easy, delicious!

Lacinato Kale Pesto is an absolutely delicious way to eat your greens. Use it like regular basil pesto—on pasta, over roasted vegetables and more!
Course Sauce
Category Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 208 kcal
Autor Elle


  • 12 Lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts (lightly roasted, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan (65 g)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed (4-5 tablespoons)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • pinch chili flakes (optional)


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the kale for 2 minutes.
  2. Strain and plunge kale into an bowl of ice cold water. Drain kale and squeeze excess water from it.
  3. In a food processor, combine garlic and pine nuts, lemon zest, chili (if using) and grind to a coarse paste.
  4. Add Parmesan and kale and blend until smooth.
  5. With motor still running, slowly drizzle in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Eat immediately or store in a glass jar in the fridge for about 4 days. Store pesto airtight in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil over top to avoid oxidation and preserve that vibrant green color.


Tips for serving with pasta: Before you drain your pasta, reserve some of the cooking liquid. That pasta cooking water contains starches that help attach the sauce to the pasta. Toss pasta and pesto with small splashes of the cooking water until you’re satisfied with the consistency.

Make it vegan: Omit the parmesan. Substitute 2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, to taste, or use vegan parmesan.

Recommended equipment: I like this Philips food processor (affiliate link). It’s affordable and does the job.

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  1. I tried this awhile back and loved it so much. The only change I made was to omit the chili flakes. I actually froze the left overs in an ice cube tray and then sealed them in a plastic bag. It was quite delicious even second time around.


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