Pesto is such a classic recipe that reminds me a lot of spring and summer because of the fresh herbs in it. But, to be honest, classic basil pesto doesn't always do it for me. You have to use a lot of basil to get a decent amount of pesto and also, quite a bit of evoo. So I wanted to create a recipe that didn't require ANY basil or herbs and also was dairy free and uses less oil. And this vegan kale pesto was born. The bright green colour, the taste and the amount it makes are what makes this pesto such a winner.
I first made this kale pesto about a month ago when I finally got around to trying this Bon Appetit kale pesto. It was DELICIOUS, as is everything I make from them. But, I wanted to make it my own, and keep it dairy free. So I took out the parmesan, and used nutritional yeast instead. I was worried it would lose a lot of flavour, but nope! It's still SO GOOD, without any dairy.
The ingredients for this simple vegan kale pesto are pretty standard pantry staples. Have a look at the ingredients and swaps and make this your own!
This vegan kale pesto really can't be made without kale! I've used both curly kale and lacinato kale and both will work. I typically use lacinato kale as I find it a little softer in texture and flavour, but use what you have. Either will work!
Typically, a pesto requires quite a bit of EVOO, so I wanted to reduce the amount needed. EVOO is expensive and so I didn't want to use too much. It's still plenty rich with the nuts and you won't miss all that oil, trust me! I only use about 1/4 cup for the whole batch, and this makes a large portion of pesto.
I threw in some hemp hearts to this recipe for added nutrition. You can feel free to add them as well, or omit them if you don't have them.
My go-to brand for hemp hearts are these ones!
Typically, pine nuts are used in a classic pesto recipe, but they're expensive! Don't get me wrong, I love pine nuts and use them in recipes, but in a pesto, I find any nut or seed can work. I like pistachios for flavour and to add to the bright green colour. Feel free to swap that out for cashews, pine nuts or almonds.
This is definitely one ingredient that isn't to be missed! Nutritional yeast, or nooch is one of my all time favourite ingredients. It adds a lot of flavour and of course the cheesiness to the pesto, so don't skip it.
My go-to brand for nutritional yeast is this one!
A little bit of acidity is important in any recipe, especially this vegan kale pesto. The lemon also adds some brightness and tartness to the pesto recipe, so try not to skip this one either.
I love adding just a bit of raw garlic to my pesto. But, I stick to using just 1 clove as raw garlic is pretty intense in flavour. You could omit the raw garlic if you want, or even add in some garlic scapes if you have those (and they're in season).
Making this kale pesto is super easy! The only "cooking" you need to do for this kale pesto is to blanch the kale first. Although it isn't technically blanching as you don't need to dunk it in cold water after. This helps to soften it a lot and makes it easier to blend as well.
First things first, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the chopped kale in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and place on a plate or baking sheet and let cool. Once cool, you can squeeze out the excess water.
From there, you can go ahead and drop in your pasta (if you're making it) in the same pot of boiling water. Cook that according to package directions.
Meanwhile, blend up your vegan kale pesto. Add the pistachios, EVOO, hemp hearts, lemon, water and garlic. Give that a good blend and then add in the nutritional yeast, kale and salt.
As with any pesto recipe, this vegan kale pesto sauce can be used in so many ways. I like adding it to pasta (the obvious choice) of course. I think it tastes really good with spaghetti, bucatini, or linguine. But it's equally as good with penne, rigatoni or even shells.
Beyond pasta, you can also use this super green pesto on top of veggies, add it to your savoury oats, spread it on a sandwich, mix into a salad dressing, slather it on pizza (or socca!), or mix it into a dip. The options are endless with pesto.
To store this vegan kale pesto, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days. To store it longer, you can freeze it. I like freezing it in an ice cube tray and then popping it out into a freezer bag. I find this is the easiest way to take out what you need and use it.
If you make this vegan kale pesto, please let me know by tagging me on Instagram. Or you could leave a rating and/or review below! It truly means so much to me when I hear from you.
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Try this delicious vegan kale pesto with your favourite pasta for a quick, dairy free dinner.