Genoa lays claim to being the origin of pesto, which means to pound or crush. Pesto was traditionally made by creaming  fresh garlic and pine nuts with a wooden pestle in a marble bowl (mortar), then pounding in fresh basil leaves with coarse salt. Depending on what community you lived in, parmesan, pecorino cheese or a blend of the two was added last using a little olive oil to help blend the cheese.

I tried it this way once. Okay, I tried it twice just to convince myself I was not a pesto wimp. I am a pesto wimp and not a pesto purist. I like my food processor.

Kale lends itself very deliciously to pesto.

You can choose to blanch the leaves or not. Blanching the leaves for 5 seconds removes the bitterness. It does create the extra step of draining and drying in a towel. Raw leaves maintain all their kale flavor. Either way, kale pesto does not oxidize and turn brown. 

  • 3 cups packed kale (any kind, including mixed), you may want to remove the bigger stems
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted nuts of your choice 
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese 
  • Salt (optional)- see note
  • In processor , pulse kale until finely chopped
  • With motor running, drizzle in olive oil
  • scrape down sides
  • Add nuts and cheese
  • Scrape sides  and blend until as smooth as you like.
  • Add salt to taste


I use Pecorino Romano because I like  the dry, saltiness. If you use Pecorino, you may not need to add salt.