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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!
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 winter time in my kitchen.
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.
Black kale (cavolo nero) is a staple in Tuscan cuisine. Which is probably why 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.
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
- a pinch of salt
All you need to do is to 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!
How to meal prep this Tuscan kale pesto
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.
If you keep it in the refrigerator, once you are ready to eat it, warm it up in a pan, add 4-5 tablespoon of cooking water from the pasta pot to make it more creamy, and stir away.
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 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 Tuscal kale with normal kale in this recipe, and it will still be delicious.
Extra virgin olive oil
I normally just 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 to amount of fat you eat, if they come from process food. And yes, olive oil counts as processed.
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.
I use almonds in this recipe, but any other nut will work. I used successfully walnuts, cashew nuts, or pine nuts.
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 parmesan cheese if you are not vegan or dairy intolerant.
More quick and easy dinner recipes you’ll love:
Tuscan Kale Pesto (Black Kale Pesto)
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)
- ⅓ cup raw almonds
- ¼ cup water
For the black kale pesto pasta
- 12 oz bucatini pasta (or any other pasta of your choice)
- Remove the hard stem from the Tuscan kale leaves and wash them under running water.
- Bring a pan full of salted water to the 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 the time until you reach a creamy consistency.
- Simply cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or longer until cooked through (simply follow the 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.
- You can serve this kale pesto not only with pasta, but also with crackers, in sandwiches, salads etc.