Save Your Stems! Easy Raw Kale Pesto

I bought two massive bunches of kale on special, thinking I’d use it all quick smart. I was wrong. After a huge batch of kale salad and a tray of kale chips, there was still a big bunch in the fridge plus all the stems I’d kept (don’t judge me).

I thought I could make it into a pesto, and saw that some people blanched the stems first – but to be honest I tested it blanched versus raw and they both taste amazing, so save yourself the effort.

With that, here’s my recipe for a raw kale pesto that uses up every last scrap of kale and is prime to slather on pretty much anything.


Raw Kale Stem Pesto

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ cups of finished pesto (1 x 300ml mason jar full)

1 packed cup kale leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 ½ packed cup kale stems, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves – peeled
25ml lemon juice (approx. ½ a medium lemon)
Zest of ½ a medium lemon
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp pine nuts or roasted walnuts
80ml olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

You could also add any herbs you have on hand like parsley or basil.


  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and pulse in controlled bursts till crumbly-looking without any big chunks. Scrape down the sides regularly to ensure everything’s processed relatively evenly.
  2. Add more lemon, salt or pepper to taste. And add a little more olive oil if you want a thinner pesto.
  3. To store, keep refrigerated in a hipster-looking glass jar for added effect, and top with olive oil to stop it browning. Freeze batches for later use in small containers or plastic freezer bags.


Easy, right? Mix this pesto into pasta, soups, salads, spread it on toast or sandwiches for a herby garlicy, use it as a pizza sauce, toss veggies through it, top eggs with it, eat it with a steak or mix through meatballs. There’s so many ways to use it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Comments (



  1. Mark

    Yum! Does it have a kale taste? Or does it taste like normal basil pesto?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret at

      Surprisingly no bitter raw kale taste – the rest of the ingredients really transform it! It tastes zesty, garlicky and with a slight broccoli edge. Thanks for your com 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cauliflower leaves make an excellent pizza topping | Bottomfeeder

    […] was going to use tomato paste on the base but decided to use kale stem pesto because I had some fresh. I usually make a big batch and keep some in the fridge, then freeze the […]


  3. Long live Condimental! Quirky, long-life pickles, preserves & sauces curated seasonally | Bottomfeeder

    […] ☝️See my recipe for kale stem pesto here […]


  4. on friendship & geographical commitments – in search of angophoras

    […] page the other day – Bottom Feeder. They shared a great kale stalk pesto recipe on their blog and I was inspired when my house mate was going to throw out the kale stalks. I didn’t have […]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret at Bottomfeeder

      Hey Kirsten! Thanks so much for sharing this! Happy to hear you liked it. It’s kind of exciting to test the limits of what pest can take. Carrot top pesto and even mostly parsley stem pesto works so well too. I used to get so intimidated if i couldn’t find lush basil and all that, but now i just roll with whatever – as long as you have some cheese, nuts and lemon (or vinegar) you’ll get a delicious approximation!


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: