Kale & Red Pepper Pesto

5 from 2 votes

Kale Pesto with Pecans and Roasted Red Peppers
While I think I’m a pretty healthy eater, I’m sometimes shocked to realize I’m eating things with an ingredient list a mile long. Something’s wrong if the list is that long — especially when you’re reading words you’ve never heard of!

It’s quite easy to move away from processed spreads and condiments by making your own. It’s lovely making your own foods with whole unprocessed ingredients — you know exactly what you’re eating. So let’s skip mayonnaise and jarred pasta sauces and throw a few healthy ingredients in our food processors to come up with our own tasty creations. It’s easy and fun — and can be an incredibly flavorful treat!

Pesto is a wonderful way to add rich flavors to foods. Traditional pesto is made with basil, but why not use kale? This pesto is like eating your vitamins — it is a nutritional stand-out!

In this recipe I love roasting some of the ingredients before adding them. It enhances their flavors, and will often eliminate the need to add sugar or too much sodium.

Kale Pesto with Pecans and Roasted Red Peppers

Kale Pesto with Pecans and Roasted Red Peppers
5 from 2 votes

Kale & Red Pepper Pesto

By: Valentina Kenney Wein
This unique take on pesto is great as a topping or in several different dishes whenever you feel like adding a flare to your meal.
Makes 1-1/4 cups.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup Pecans, roasted
  • 1 medium Red Bell Pepper, roasted
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 to 4 large Garlic Cloves, roasted (here's how to roast garlic)
  • 4 cups packed green Kale Leaves, about 1/2 bunch
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste


  • To roast the pecans: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, put the baking sheet in and roast until the nuts look a bit oily and are very aromatic, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • To roast the pepper: Place it directly on top of a high flame on the stove and let it cook for a few minutes. You'll hear it crackle as the skin begins to char. Use metal kitchen tongs to turn the pepper as each side chars. It should be mostly, but not completely black. Then place the pepper in a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for about 5 minutes. Remove the plastic and let the pepper become cool enough to handle. Gently peel the skin off the pepper. Break or cut the pepper into a few pieces and then use a paring knife on the inside to remove the white membranes and seeds. Set aside.
  • Wash, dry, and remove any tough stems from the kale.
  • In a food processor, make the pesto by blending the kale with the roasted pecans, roasted pepper, and roasted garlic. Once it's smooth, gradually pour in the olive oil and blend until it's fully incorporated. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Calories: 143kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 13mg, Potassium: 221mg, Vitamin A: 3810IU, Vitamin C: 59.2mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 0.8mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About the Author

Valentina K. Wein is a recipe developer, food photographer and owner of the popular food blog, Cooking On The Weekends. Her focus is working with whole foods to create beautiful, comforting recipes for casual entertaining. Outside the worlds of food and photography, Valentina’s other passion is her family (including her two young boys, her husband and her dog, Maple.)

You can also keep up with Valentina’s recipes on Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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October 6, 2011 11:18 am

I’m a huge fan of pesto, kale and red pepper. I’m just dying to try this recipe!

October 5, 2011 9:43 pm

Just an FYI… your url link for SimpleBites is wrong. It’s simplebites.net. Just thought you should know! Love the blog, love the challenge!

Reply to  Jennifer
October 5, 2011 10:50 pm

Whoops! Thanks for letting me know, Jennifer. It’s fixed!

October 5, 2011 6:03 pm

i have never thought of using kale as pesto! brilliant

October 5, 2011 5:17 pm

To be plainly honest, how can you not love anything Valentina makes. Can’t you just see the heart she puts into her food and her blog? 🙂

October 5, 2011 2:17 pm

You can also make awesome pesto with arugula or cilantro (I use walnuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste).

October 5, 2011 1:57 pm

Hi Andrew, I was browsing around on Twitter and came across a link to your blog. I love pesto and have posted a few pesto recipes on my blog as well… but it never came across to me that I can use kale instead of herbs! I love kale and I buy them every single week, so this is a must try for me! Thanks for sharing!

Reply to  Laney
October 5, 2011 2:26 pm

Thanks, Laney, and welcome! 🙂

October 5, 2011 12:44 pm

I cannot get it to print but it could be our printer – someone else try?

October 5, 2011 11:41 am

I am printing out this pesto recipe of yours pronto – what a gift! Thanks –

October 5, 2011 11:04 am

I really enjoy kale, and pesto is one of my favorites, so I think this is a winning combination. Thanks for sharing!