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Collard Greens and Kale Pesto

Collard Greens and Kale Pesto

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You wouldn’t blanch tender herbs such as basil, but doing so here softens the collards and kale.


  • 1 small bunch collard greens, stems removed
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed
  • 1½ ounces grated Parmesan (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook collard greens and kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and tender, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water (this will stop the cooking and help lock in the color). Drain; squeeze out as much liquid as possible (to avoid a watery sauce).

  • Coarsely chop greens and place in a food processor. Add garlic, Parmesan, oil, peanuts, lemon zest, and lemon juice; process on low speed until a coarse but well-blended mixture forms (a little texture is part of the selling point). Season with salt and plenty of pepper.

  • Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly against surface, and chill.

Recipe by Joe Sparatta & Lee Gregory, Southbound, Richmond, VA,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 690 Fat (g) 67 Saturated Fat (g) 11 Cholesterol (mg) 10 Carbohydrates (g) 17 Dietary Fiber (g) 7 Total Sugars (g) 3 Protein (g) 13 Sodium (mg) 230Reviews Section

    • 1 3/4 lb collard greens
    • 7 large brine-cured green olives (2 1/4 ounces), pitted
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
    1. Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems and center ribs from collard greens and discard. Stir collards into water in batches, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer collards with tongs to a colander to drain, gently pressing on greens to extract excess water. (If making pasta, reserve water in pot for cooking pasta.) Coarsely chop collards.
    2. Blend olives and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add collards, water, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream. Turn off motor, then add cheese and pulse to combine.

    Fast & Fabulous: Lemony Collard Green & Kale Pesto!

    "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." - George H. W. Bush

    This post is dedicated to my fellow wine and food lovers who, like myself, are not big fans of green veggies. Growing up, the mere sight of mushy broccoli, rubbery green beans or watery wads of spinach would immediately trigger my gag reflex. Over the years, however, as my palate has become more adventurous I've discovered a variety of ways to prepare vegetables so that I not only tolerate them, I really enjoy them! This recipe for Lemony Collard Green & Kale Pesto is one such dish that will have all you veggie-phobes out there not only tolerating these leafy greens but coming back for more!Collard greens and kale are dark, leafy greens that belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables which also includes broccoli and cauliflower. Both are incredibly nutritious and chock full of vitamins A, K, B and C minerals including potassium, iron, calcium and zinc and plenty of fiber. They are also very sturdy greens with distinct textures and flavors. Kale has a frilly, ruffled leaf and a nutty flavor while collards have a broad, flat leaf and more of an earthy taste. Because of their distinct flavors I was a little wary of this recipe but I promise you, when prepared in this method you don't taste any of the pungent greens, only lemony, cheesy deliciousness perfect for crowning your favorite dish of pasta! I used a delicious egg tagliatelle but any hearty pasta will work with this pesto.To pair with the Lemony Collard Greens & Kale Pesto, I chose the lovely Anne Amie Cuvée A Müller-Thurgau ($16) from Oregon's Willamette Valley. This white wine's bright, lemony flavors and food-friendly acidity complemented the dish beautifully. Alternatively, a nice Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would work deliciously well with this dish too.I'd love to hear what you fellow veggie-phobes think of this dish. I've made it three times in the past month and keep going back for more so I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we do!Bon Appétit, "Lemony Collard Greens & Kale Pesto"Serves 2-43 packed cups of collard greens, stems removed & chopped3 packed cups of kale, stems removed & chopped1 large garlic clove, chopped1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving1/4 cup good olive oil1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juiceKosher salt & freshly ground black pepper1.) Add collard greens and kale to a boiling pot of salted water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse greens under cold running water and when cool enough to handle, squeeze out any remaining water in the greens.2.) Roughly chop the greens and add to bowl of food processor along with the garlic, olive oil, peanuts, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse until ingredients are mixed well, but still retain a chunky texture. If you need to thin the pesto at all, use some of the water you cooked the pasta in to do so. Season to taste with salt and pepper.3.) Toss the pesto with your favorite pasta and garnish with additional Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

    Cook Club: Kale Pesto

    If you love vegetables, there is no better way to get them than fresh from the farm. Even better when they're delivered by the boxful to a local drop-off near you, which is exactly what I have after signing up for a summer CSA share through Bass Family Farms in Mount Vernon.

    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to subscribe to a local farm's harvest of produce throughout the season. Farmers get the advantage of payment in advance, while consumers get delicious, fresh - and in my case, organic - food delivered to them. They know exactly where it's coming from, too.

    Now in my fifth week of picking up my box at my local drop-off spot of choice, Lion Bridge Brewing Company - combining two of my favorite things: beer and veggies - I have more kale than I know what to do with.

    Chris Bass of Bass Family Farms said they include a lot of kale in the CSA share because 'it's a super antioxidant” that is 'way overpriced in the grocery store.”

    Just one cup of the increasingly popular leafy green packs lots of vitamins and minerals - vitamin A, C and K, folate, omega-3, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and zinc - 2.5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein into just 33 calories. It goes great with eggs or blended into a smoothie in the morning, sliced into a salad for lunch or sauteed as a side for dinner. But with so much of it filling my fridge, I needed a recipe that could tackle a large portion fast. Kale pesto did the trick.

    This recipe calls for 12 cups of kale, which sounds like a lot, but once blended it shrinks down to just under a quart of pesto.

    Traditionally, the Italian sauce - it's name coming from the Italian verb pestare, which means to pound or crush - consists of basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. You can substitute other vegetables for basil - similar to what I did with kale - such as garlic scapes, parsley, beets, spinach, carrots, mint and much more. Pine nuts, which can cost up to $120 per pound, can be substituted with more affordable nuts such as sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds.

    Pesto goes great on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, soups, baked into bread, on salads, in dips and much more - it's easy to get creative with such a versatile sauce. It can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for future meals. Want individual portions? Try freezing in a muffin tin or ice cube tray to thaw as needed.

    1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed while blending

    12 cups chopped kale leaves (optional: add basil leaves for more traditional pesto flavor)

    1 cup pine nuts (One way to make this recipe more affordable is to use a cheaper nut, such as sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds)

    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Splash of lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon)

    Pour olive oil into a food processor, add garlic and pulse until chopped.

    Add kale to olive oil mixture, working in batches. Pulse until blended. You may need to scrape the sides, pushing the kale toward the blade as you go.

    Stir pine nuts and Parmesan cheese into kale mixture and pulse until smooth.

    Add a splash of lemon juice and salt to taste.

    1 12-inch pizza crust, pre-baked or homemade

    2 cups precooked, deveined shrimp

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Spread pesto on pizza crust. Top with tomatoes, capers, shrimp and cheese.

    Breakfast Radishes

    The Breakfast Radish is a small, one-bite treat prized for its sweet mild flavor and succulent crunch. Fresh radishes are spicier and crunchier when raw, with a milder flavor and creamier texture when cooked. The French breakfast variety of radish is typically available from October through May. Radishes are know for their detoxifying properties, boosting immune systems, and for their high content of antioxidants.
    More Radish Recipes

    Buttered Radish Tartines
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon chopped black olives
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    Dash of crushed red pepper
    16 (1/4-ounce) slices whole-grain French bread baguette
    8 to 10 radishes, very thinly sliced 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

    Place butter, olives, parsley, thyme, and red pepper in a small bowl mash with a spoon to combine. Spread butter mixture evenly over bread slices top with radish slices. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately.

    What greens can I use for this recipe?

    For the gnocchi, I recommend Swiss chard or kale which cook fairly quickly and hold up better than a more tender green like spinach.

    For the pesto, you can change the ratio of kale to herbs to your personal preference or to what’s more abundantly available in your garden or at the market. If you are a fan of arugula, you can also substitute arugula for the kale.

    Green Garlic Pesto with Jammy Eggs and Radishes

    A versatile recipe for green garlic pesto that comes straight from my spring garden. My green garlic pesto is made with radish greens and pepitas, and served alongside jammy steamed eggs and lemony sliced radishes.

    As the pandemic began spreading here in the States, I planted rows of kale, turnip, radish, carrot, and collard seeds in my backyard garden. When the weather warmed, I added more kale and collards and lots of lettuce. Last year’s bronze fennel returned along with a handful of garlic stalks. Soon, I’ll plants cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, and okra. And when they’re ready, I’m planning to plant a dozen tomatoes right in the ground since my raised beds are now completely full.

    Quite quickly, gardening has gone from a hobby to a meaningful source of sustenance. Of course there are many people in every community who rely on gardens, pandemic or no. But this growing season, many others will be taking their first steps into the magic of growing actual food from tiny seeds.

    Victory Gardens Everywhere

    In my community, folks are looking to expand the victory garden movement and find ways to share seedlings and soil, knowledge and equipment, so that those who experience food insecurity even in the best of times can access and grow nourishing fresh foods right now. In your community, look for community and school-based garden programs. There are lots of opportunities out there to increase your gardening knowledge while also doing good and bringing fresh food into under-resourced neighborhoods. Resources to check out include Slow Food USA, Edible Schoolyard, and the International Rescue Committee whose New Roots has refugee-centered community garden and CSA programs in communities throughout the US.

    Green Garlic Pesto

    This recipe for green garlic pesto comes right from my garden. It’s made from the whole stalk of young garlic picked before individual cloves or the garlic scapes have formed. You could also trim the garlic greens and leave the bulb in the ground to continue growing (I’ve seen both the garlic chive and full green garlic stalks for sale at farmer’s markets this time of year.) Green garlic is milder than scapes or cloves and has that lovely green-tasting punch that for me is the very epitome of spring eating. Green garlic pesto is also a great way to incorporate other types of garden greens – I used radish and turnip greens, but kale, collards, or basil would be delicious.

    Alongside the pesto is a low-key spring feast. Cobbled together but special too. Grilled naan, sliced radishes tossed with lemon and sea salt, and jammy 7-minute spring eggs.

    A final note: if you’re not steaming your eggs, you should be. This technique is simple and even farm fresh eggs are a cinch to peel.

    Preserved Home: Use collard or kale for great pesto

    I grow basil every summer and enjoy making pesto with my bounty. For my family, basil pesto requires fresh tomatoes as a pasta topping. But in the winter, tomatoes aren’t so great. To change it up, I make winter pesto, using collard greens or kale. Stick with me – even my 6-year-old loves these “green noodles.”

    Instead of tomatoes, I use butternut squash to top winter pesto. Let’s not forget the bacon and white beans. It’s a wonderful combination of textures and flavors. Crunchy, salty bacon, creamy white beans and sweet butternut squash, all tossed with the kale or collard-coated noodles. If you really want to go for it, make garlic breadcrumbs as a topping. It’s a feast for the senses and outrageously healthy – if you don’t count the bacon.

    Collards and kale fight against cancer and are nutritional powerhouses, including vitamins A and C, fiber, and calcium. In fact, these greens, butternut squash and beans are all considered superfoods. My family begs me to make this dish.

    I’ve made both kale and collard green pesto. I prefer kale pesto because it seems less watery, but they are both fantastic. Make sure to de-stem both kinds of greens before cooking. If you are tempted to throw the kale stems away, first tuck them in a jar of pickle juice and see how you like them. Cool the greens completely before pureeing – the texture won’t be good for a pesto if you pulse them hot.

    I don’t use pine nuts in my pesto. They are $20 a pound even at Costco, and I don’t think they add much. I love toasted pine nuts on salad, but they don’t give a bang-for-your-buck in pesto.

    What you absolutely cannot do without is fresh lemon juice. Don’t use bottled lemon juice in anything other than preserving. Canning recipes call for bottled lemon juice because of its acidity consistency, and there is a variation of such in fresh lemons. You must use fresh for this and, in my opinion, every non-canning recipe.

    (Photo by Laura Woolfrey-Macklem)

    This pesto freezes beautifully and accommodates 2 pounds of pasta. I successfully roasted butternut squash cubes and froze them, as well. In addition, to save money, I cook my own beans and freeze them into 1 ½ cup portions – the same amount in a can of beans. You only pay one-third of the price by cooking your own. This dish can be a quick dinner if you pull the pesto, squash and beans out of your freezer.

    Serve these “green noodles” to your family and introduce them to the concept of eating collards and kale – they might be open to trying greens in other ways after this meal.

    Greens Pesto with Bacon, Butternut and White Beans

    • 1 big bunch of kale or collard greens
    • Juice of 1 lemon (fresh, not bottled)
    • Salt to taste, which will probably equal at least 2 teaspoons
    • A few cracks of pepper
    • About 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
    • 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cut in half and 1 minced, divided
    • 2 teaspoons dried basil
    • About 1/2 cup of olive oil
    • 1 small butternut squash, cubed and roasted – about 3 cups (toss with olive oil and salt, roast at 425 degrees until done, about 20 minutes)
    • 6 pieces of cooked bacon
    • 1 ½ cups of white beans
    • 1 pound of pasta

    Take ribs out of greens. Wash. Bring pot of water to boil and add greens. Cook about 25-30 minutes or longer, or until tender, but not mushy. You should be able to easily tear the greens but they should not fall apart. This is important – let the greens cool before processing. After your collards are cool, add to a food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients through the basil, except for the olive oil

    Start the food processor and right away start adding olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. You may not need all of the olive oil mentioned in the recipe. However, if you do and you feel it needs to be thinner, taste and see if more lemon juice is needed. Do not be afraid to add more salt or cheese.

    Boil pasta in salted water until tender. Toss. Combine half of pesto mixture with pasta. Freeze other half of pesto. Add roasted butternut squash, crumble the bacon and add, and combine with white beans. Toss with extra cheese if desired.

    Collard Green Wraps (wrap city…wrap wrap city)

    Busted for time, or ready to LEVEL UP your leafy green game? Try these collard green wraps and stuff them with whatever your heart desires.

    Now although Southern collard greens are historically tied to our American roots and the cooking of our African American brothers and sisters, you must know that collard greens date way back to prehistoric times, similar to the close relative, KALE, as we talk about in our book.

    Collard greens can be found all over this world, from Ethiopian gomen, to Portuguese soup.

    BUT…for this recipe, you won’t be cooking them down much. Instead, you’ll be using them as a vessel, or like we say: “Mother Nature’s tortillas” — because these hearty leaves really hold all kinds of ingredients well.

    Now, like most dark leafy greens, these can taste bitter, so the tricks are:

    1. blanche the leaves to tone them down a bit (and make them more pliable)
    2. use a spread (like hummus, kale pesto, or guac) to add flavor to every bite
    3. sprinkle with sea salt and pepper before you close them up


    Back in the day, farmers markets were booming with hippy, raw, vegan pop-ups. Now you can actually find legit restaurants that serve up some of this yummy fair. My personal encounter of these wraps dates back to the early 2000’s, when I first tried ‘cashew cheese’ and sprouted almond milk. From there, the rest was history. I gave up the rules that meals needed to be centered around meat, and instead focused on filling up on lively vegetables with everything else being a “side.”


    Collard greens are full of iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C — plus fiber of course. It’s a great low-cal, single ingredient!

    You put something in your mouth.
    You chew it.
    You digest it.
    You absorb it.
    You live it.

    It’s kind of that simple. The quality of what you put in your body will have a direct role in how your body performs here on earth (mood, attitude, and all).


    4 large collard greens (or 8 small ones)
    ¾ cup shredded carrots
    ¾ cup shredded purple cabbage (the thinner the better)
    1 large avocado (or 2 small ones)
    1/2 cup of Kale & Basil Pesto
    2 15-Minute Pesto Chicken Breast

    NOTE: experiment with other fillers – like sprouts, cucumber, peppers, and more. Heck make a collard wrap burrito!

    Kale Pesto Puff Pastry

    Hiya guys! I’m here to make your Monday a little more palatable with this Kale Pesto Puff Pastry. It’s a warm and savoury puff pastry that takes full advantage of comfort food. Now, let’s dive in and forget that it’s only Monday why don’t we?

    This recipe is made using store-bought puff pastry and a homemade kale pesto. When most of us think of pesto we think of basil and pine nuts. But pesto can be quite versatile. Switching out the nuts and herbs can make for a delicious pesto, especially when you don’t have basil handy. In fact, I love using kale when basil is no longer in season. But choosing sturdy leafy greens like parsley, kale, or collard greens works well as a delicious pesto base in the colder months.

    As well, I’ve exchanged the pine nuts in this recipe for raw cashews. Pine nuts are just so expensive in France, and not always so easy to find. Raw cashews, however are a nut that I always have handy in my pantry. And they make for a great pine nut substitute as the textures are similar. They’re both a soft and creamy nut, making them a ideal for mixing into pesto.

    To make the pesto I’ve pulsed the kale with raw cashews in my food processor. Then added olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt. The end result is a flavourful kale pesto that’s ready for spreading.

    For the pastry, I’ve bought a store-bought frozen dough from the grocers. (You can make your own, but it’s Monday and I’m no Martha Stewart). I find the store-bought doughs to work just fine for this recipe. Be sure to let it thaw to room temperature first, then roll it out and lather on that kale pesto from end to end.

    Now, comes the wow factor: braiding the bun. Although it looks a bit tricky let me tell you – it’s a lot more simple that it looks…

    After you’ve lathered the puff pastry in kale pesto, you want to roll it into a log. Then, with a sharp knife cut down the centre of the roll to expose the interior layers.

    From there, you wrap one strand over the other, alternating each piece and working your way down to the bottom. Pinch the ends together and voila! You’ve got a gorgeous braided bun ready to be baked. Bet you didn’t think it would be so easy?

    This recipe makes for a perfect savoury side-dish to soups or salad. It’s that little bit of comfort we need paired with a healthy soup or salad as the weather begins to cool. And now that you know just how the simple the secret is for making that braided bun effect, you can take delight in wowing your loved ones with this side-dish. Imagine how impressed they’ll be as you set this pretty pastry on the kitchen table.

    I do hope you enjoy this savoury Kale Pesto Puff Pastry recipe as much as I do, and that it makes your Monday all the more palatable. And, if you do make this recipe please let me know in the comments below what you think! I love hearing from you. And of course, tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #twospoons. Nothing makes me happier than to see your recreations.