Tuscan Kale Pesto Pasta

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This vegan Tuscan kale pesto recipe is so good. A truly sensational seasonal kale pesto recipe that will become a staple in your kitchen! Made with black kale, almonds, and the best quality extra virgin olive oil, it’s a staple in Tuscan cuisine. 

Love this? Try this Nut Free Pesto Recipe or this Broccoli Pesto Pasta.

Tuscan Kale Pesto Pasta

I always thought of pesto as a summer dish, with aromatic basil as the star.

But, hey, I was wrong! There are plenty of incredible variations of this Italian dish.

And this Tuscan kale pesto is no exception!

It’s so good it’s now a weekly dish during autumn and wintertime in my kitchen.

Top view of all ingredients: Tuscan kale (also known as black kale or lacinato kale), almonds, garlic, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil.

The first time I tried this Tuscan kale pesto, I was in beautiful Florence. I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with my family in one of the most beautiful city on Earth…but here is the thing:

There is nothing in Florence quite impressive as the food you can taste in every corner.

We had so many amazing meals in the 3 days we spent there, but the thing I loved the most was a very simple Pasta al Pesto di Cavolo Nero.

Top view of food processor with black kale (Tuscan kale) leaves and almonds.

Black kale (cavolo nero) is a staple in Tuscan cuisine, which is probably why it is also known as Tuscan kale.

I have to admit, it wasn’t an ingredient I used very often before this trip, but I am now a big fan.

This is why I love traveling so much:

You discover beautiful places, meet incredible people, and explore new flavors you didn’t know before. And these tastes become part of your everyday meals.

Top view of food processor with Tuscan Kale Pesto

As soon as I got back home, I experimented with different recipe variations, and I came up with my own version, and I am proud to say it tastes as good, if not better than the kale pesto I had in Florence.

Plus, this recipe is also vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free!

You can, of course, add a bit of parmesan to the ingredients if you like. But I do love the simplicity of this recipe as it is.

How to make Tuscan kale pesto

There are only 6 ingredients, and this is all you need to make this special kale pesto:

  • Tuscan kale (also known as black kale or lacinato kale)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Almonds
  • Water
  • A pinch of salt

All you need to do is remove the hard light green stems from the Tuscan kale, boil it to soften it for 3 to 5 minutes, then add it to a food processor or blender with the rest of the ingredients, and you are done.

Yes, it’s that simple!

3/4 view of pasta with black kale pesto

How to meal prep

This Tuscan kale pesto is perfect for meal prep.

You can prepare it in advance and either keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2-3 months.  Simply add it to a jar once blended, and store it away.

Fridge: If you keep it in the refrigerator, once you are ready to eat it, warm it up in a pan, add 4-5 tablespoons of cooking water from the pasta pot to make it more creamy, and stir away.

Freezer: If you decide to freeze it, remove it a few hours in advance and let it thaw at room temperature. Then warm it up and again add a bit of water to make it a bit less dense.

Tips, additions, and substitutions 

Tuscan kale

Tuscan kale is also known as black kale or lacinato kale. It’s a milder version of kale but still has all the incredible benefits of cruciferous vegetables. You can substitute Tuscan kale with normal kale in this recipe, and it will still be delicious.

Extra virgin olive oil

I usually add one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to this pesto. But you can add more if you like. Just remember that although extra-virgin olive oil has some benefits, it’s much healthier to reduce the amount of fat you eat.

Garlic

Garlic gives a bit of a pungent taste to this pesto. Plus, it can help to boost your immune system. But if you are not a fan, you can omit it entirely. Or opt for roasted garlic for a milder flavor.

Almonds

I use almonds in this recipe, but any other nut will work. I used walnuts, cashew nuts, or pine nuts successfully.

Other things you can add:

I love this pesto as it is, but if you want to add a bit more of a kick, you can add chili flakes, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, or even 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese if you are not vegan or dairy intolerant.

Top view of pasta with Tuscan kale pesto

Why I love this Tuscan kale pesto

  • It’s quick and easy to make
  • It’s incredibly healthy and a great winter alternative to basil pesto
  • It’s easy to meal prep in advance and store for a quick dinner
  • Vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free

More quick and easy dinner recipes you’ll love:

If you try this Tuscan kale pesto recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!

Tuscan kale pesto pasta in a white plate
4.41 from 5 votes
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Tuscan Kale Pesto (Black Kale Pesto)

This vegan Tuscan kale pesto recipe is so good. A truly sensational seasonal kale pesto recipe that will become a staple in your kitchen! Made with black kale, almonds, and the best quality extra virgin olive oil, it's a staple in Tuscan cuisine. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 421kcal
Author: Sara Trezzi

Ingredients

For the black kale pesto

  • 4 cups Tuscan kale leaves - (also known as black kale or lacinato kale)
  • 1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt - (to taste)
  • cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup water

For the black kale pesto pasta

  • 12 oz bucatini pasta - (or any other pasta of your choice)

Instructions

  • Remove the hard stem from the Tuscan kale leaves and wash them under running water.
  • Bring a pan full of salted water to a boil, and add the chopped Tuscan kale leaves without stems. Let them simmer for 3-5 minutes and drain.
  • Place the kale, garlic, almonds, salt, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the water a bit at a time until you reach a creamy consistency.
  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or longer until cooked through (follow the package cooking instruction), then drain. Save some of the cooking water to add to the pesto if it's still a bit dense.
  • Stir the Tuscan kale pesto through the pasta, adding a bit of cooking water to make it more creamy, if necessary.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Make it creamy: Remember to add 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water from the pasta to make it creamier.
How to eat: You can serve this kale pesto with any pasta, but also with potato gnocchi, crackers, oatcakes, in sandwiches, salads, etc.
How to store: You can keep the pesto in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. You can also freeze this Tuscan kale pesto. Just remove it from the freezer a couple of hours before use, and it will still be super delicious!

Nutrition

Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 11g | Sugar: 3g

Did you make this recipe? Tag @gatheringdreams on Instagram. I want to see it!

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18 Comments

  1. Carla @ Foodie Digital says:

    5 stars
    The whole family loved this! Such a great way to eat a lot of kale without a lot of chewing (a big bonus for my 7 year old). We added some lemon and topped with red chilli flakes – delicious!

    1. Sara @ Gathering Dreams says:

      That’s good to know! Adding lemon and chili flakes is nice touch.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh wow! I just made this for dinner tonight and found it delicious 😋 so yummy!

  3. 4 stars
    This was absolutely amazing. I just made this for my dinner. I didn’t have black kale but I did have green kale. I really enjoyed it. Would definitely make it again.

  4. 5 stars
    Loved it! I didn’t find it bland at all and the taste of the black kale came through nicely.
    Will do it again!

  5. 3 stars
    It looks like I’m the first commenter to actually make this pesto. I think if you are a vegan this would be a nice addition and use of kale. This was my first time making a vegan pesto, first time using black kale and first time using almonds in pesto. SO……as a non-vegan I found it a little bland but it tasted better than I expected. I think if I was in the mood for pesto I’d stick with more traditional, but might try it again with walnuts or pine nuts to see if I like it better. Black kale seems like a nice mild kale and I would like to try other recipes that use it.

    1. Thanks, Becky! I love kale as well. I am surprised you found it bland. You can add some nutritional yeast to give it a bit more flavor if you like, but I do prefer to keep it simple to taste the black kale.

  6. I never thought of making pesto with kale, but it’s brilliant! We had a bumper crop of kale this year in our veggie garden, and I still have kale in the freezer! Will definitely be trying this!

  7. Hey Sara!

    I LOVE pesto sauce in general! I love them in sandwiches, chicken, pastas, etc. It is truly amazing! It’s actually one of my fave sauces!

    And this black kale pesto pasta look delicious!!! Great job with this post, girl!