Let’s Get Cooking: Basic Kale and Basil Pesto

“This variation of traditional pesto adds another taste dimension.  It’s easy to prepare and full of those kale nutrients.  Besides having it with pasta, you can spoon it into soups, spread over a layer of fresh ricotta, toss it with steamed potatoes, over eggs or use it in salad dressings.  Sometimes we add chopped roasted walnuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese.  We spoon any leftovers into an ice cube tray and when frozen hard, we pop them into a zip lock bag for later use,” says Ayu Spicy in “Food Glorious Food” (from The Bali Advertiser, Nov. 2017 p. 16).


Kale for kale pesto.  Image from: https://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-vegan-kale-pesto

Basic Kale and Basil Pesto (makes about 1 1/2 cups)


  • 4 cups kale leaves, washed and stems discarded
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 shakes of Tabasco or 1/16 tsp. powdered cayenne


With the blender or food processor running, throw in the garlic clove until minced.  Stop the blender and add the rest of the ingredients and run the blender until all is chopped.  Stop the blender and scrape the sides down.  Turn it back on and run until you have a smooth sauce.  If it seems too dry, add more olive oil.


Blender with kale and other ingredients.  Image from: <https://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-vegan-kale-pesto

Taste the bright green silky sauce and adjust lemon, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to your liking.  Note: Add 2 Tbl. chopped roasted walnuts and or 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese to all or part of the recipe for variation.

Buon Appetito!”

Aloha, Renée

Banner from http://ifoodreal.com/vegan-kale-pesto/



About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

6 responses to “Let’s Get Cooking: Basic Kale and Basil Pesto”

  1. Rosita says :

    I suppose this recipe would be specially refreshing if it had a bunch of dragonfruit and mangosteen for dessert, along with shaved ice 😋 and such are healthy, yet delicious combinations, perfect for a hot day, don’t u agree? ^^ I just put dat combo ‘cause it’s ubiquous, gets fine with pratically any food – and is my fav too. I suppose dat being born and raised on a tropical country means u has (or at least should have, since it not always is da reality, sadly) more access to healthy, delicious food in abundance. Sadly, food scarcity happens everywhere along with food wasting, and Brasil and USA aren’t exceptions. At least here in Brasil u don’t sees starving children with frequency, not as u used to see 30-40 yrs ago, as government, despite its scandalous rates of corruption and money washing, as one can see thro Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash Operation, in Portuguese), has did something to relieve misery – but definitively not to eradicate it nor extreme poverty -, and, consequently, drastically diminishing starvation rates. Next yr we have elections here, and I, as good Brazilian, am aware on possible candidates, and hopeful dat someone will do difference in a good way, without being involved in such corruption and money washing scandals. We, as good citizens and patriots, should make difference in our countries and remain hopeful about da future, as it may change on a blink of eyes 🙂 also, is there any typical Hawaiian snacks?
    With love,

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Rosita: Will you be able to vote in the Brazilian elections next year? Our December 12 the election in Alabama demonstrates how important it is for everyone to vote. In some ways the world is better than it was 30-40 years ago, but it could be better yet for many people in the world. Good leaders, good food, good education, good treatment of all beings, protection of our Earth: we have much to work on. Happy Holidays to you and your family.
      Aloha, Renée

      • Rosita says :

        Yah, I’ll be able to vote next yr, as I’m now up da minimal age for voting 🙂 also, I really hope corruption diminishes on here, despite its really high rates and political tension 😰 also, have a good christimas, y’all! ❤️
        With love,

      • reneeriley says :

        Hi Rosita: Merry Christmas to you and your family – including the critters you love. I’m glad you will be able to vote soon. The more informed voters are, the better the voting outcome. Barry and I are back on Maui. I left Bali the day before the airport was closed because Mt. Agung started erupting. But on that final day in Bali, I was nipped by a Bali dog as I was peddling hard up hill on my bicycle. 😦 I think he was just playing – and as I was going much slower than the motor bikes that were zipping around me, I was fair game. He came from behind me; at first I thought there was no damage, but his nip broke my skin. 😦 So I had the experience of getting anti-rabies vaccines before I left that night (not the extremely painful ones of the past), and then I’ve had the drama of trying to get two more of those vaccines here on Maui where we don’t have rabies. The good news is I’ve had the series of four shots now – and I haven’t bitten a single person. 🙂 Another piece of information that you might find interesting (as I do) was that I was blocked from doing my blog for the last two weeks I was in Bali. The message that came up was “Blocked because of possible adult content” !! Wow, I didn’t know my blog was that exciting. Was it because I gave infor about the Indonesian government? I’ll give one more fact here: Right now in the most conservative Islam parts of Indonesia, a person would have to get special permission to wear a Santa hat for Christmas!!! So, I’m thankful to live where I do (and you must feel the same) although my country has many problems and flaws. Many blessings to you and your family and Brazil. Aloha, Renée

  2. Ania says :

    Kale is a traditional Dutch winter vegetable, and this for over 60 years….maybe longer
    It even tastes better when the frost passes over the plant….
    Recipe : cook 1.5 kg potatoes with 1 kg kale (chopped). When the potatoes are cooked, mix it all by hand, add milk and a spoon of butter so that it all becomes a nice ‘purée’.
    Eet smakelijk !

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