Kale Pesto

I knew Cole's favorite food was pesto even before we started dating. I received a not-so anonymous tip that his favorite food was pesto and that, if I wanted to impress him, all I had to do was make him pesto pasta. "That's it?" I thought. "I got this in the bag!"

Not so fast. Before I could even start making a shopping list I was highly encouraged to text Cole's mom for her pesto recipe because apparently he would eat no other pesto recipe. I quickly learned why. See, I don't call Cole's version of "pesto", pesto, even. I call it garlic tapenade. Yes, the pesto has a resemblance of your average basil pesto but with no less than three times more garlic than your average pesto recipe. 

Every time I've ever attempted to make "Cole's pesto" I've always been instructed to do just one thing: add more garlic. This past Christmas, in fact, we made it together and added, I kid you not, 7 cloves of garlic. When we did a taste test and I was sure that we had hit the right garlic: parmesan: basil: pine nut ratio, Cole looked at me, shook his head and said these words verbatim, "It needs more garlic. It needs to assault me with garlic."

Cole's version of pesto is no joke, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Even for serious garlic lovers, you have to be up for a slap in the face by garlic. But it's a taste that even I've grown to love. It's chunky and loaded with not just garlic but tons of fresh basil, freshly grated parmesan reggiano and pine nuts, because pesto made with any nut other than a pine nut is sacrilege. 

So it's clear that my man loves himself some garlic tapenade. And even though his preferred pesto recipe is borderline crazy, I have to admit that I did something even crazier. I put kale in my pesto. 

Kale! So hot right now. 

I almost didn't even tell Cole I was doing such a thing when I told him I had plans to make pesto the other day. I was inspired to try adding kale to my pesto after watching my guilty pleasure show, America's Next Top Model, when my body idol, Ashley Graham, showed up and made the models kale pesto pasta (you're judging me a bit right now, but just wait until you try this kale pesto, I'm telling you!)

Guys. Guess what? Adding kale to the pesto was one of the best things I've ever tried. It tasted strikingly similar to my normal pesto/garlic tapenade, only with some slightly bitter notes from the kale and even more texture. The best part (other than eating this delicious pesto on some whole wheat penne with some sundried tomatoes and broccoli, YUM) was that with every bite I knew the pesto was filling my up with loads and loads of fiber, vitamin C and the countless other health benefits associated with kale. Kale. Yeah. 

Ok, I lied. The BEST part? Cole loved it. I mean, loved it. And if it passes Cole's pesto test, you know it's good!

P.S. If you're slightly intimidated by the amount of garlic I just described that goes into this pesto, rest assured I've written the recipe with a slightly more appropriate amount of garlic. If you're up for the challenge, add more garlic to really see what this garlic lovers' pesto is all about. 

Kale Pesto


  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 5 cloves garlic (add at least 3 cloves if your name is Cole Bessee)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (use your judgment on how chunky vs. smooth you like it!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


In a food processor, pulse together garlic and pine nuts. Add kale, basil leaves and parmesan cheese and turn on low speed. Slowly stream in olive oil, starting with 1/4 cup. You be the judge on how much more you'd like to add. We like it on the chunkier side, but adding more especially if you're using the pesto as a pasta sauce is a good idea. Season with salt. Store in a mason jar for up to a week. Serve on pasta, sandwiches, burgers, eggs – whatever! Enjoy!

Making this recipe? Take a photo and share with me on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #HungryAliEats so we can follow along.

2 thoughts on “Kale Pesto

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *