I love pesto. It is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta – hot or cold, pesto adds great flavor and is easy to make. The problem with many store bought pestos is two fold. First they tend to be oily, and most importantly they generally have pine nuts or tree nuts of some sort. I am, unfortunately, allergic to pine nuts so it’s quite a hassle to find pesto that is nut free. Fortunately, it takes very little time to make a delicious homemade pesto and I’m going to show you how (including easy substitutes).
Homemade Pesto Base
Let’s start with the green. I love a super strong basily pesto. However, it can be hard to get a good 3-4 cups of fresh basil leaves for a good price unless you’re growing your own so I came up with this kale pesto recipe. I swap out part of the basil for hearty kale. It works perfectly in pesto and doesn’t mute the basil. You may want to give spinach a try in place of kale and that’s great. Go for it. Just know that it will have ahigher water content and stronger flavor.
Boost Your Homemade Pesto with Flavor!
Every dish tastes better with a dash or two of salt and pepper. Plus, pasta and garlic go hand in hand, right?! I’m all for “more garlic, please” but a couple cloves will do perfectly in this recipe. You don’t want to taste just the garlic. If you can’t have garlic, try adding a tablespoon of diced onion.
Add some Nuttiness to Your Homemade Pesto.
Or not (I didn’t add them this time). Adding nuts is optional, and if you have a tree nut allergy you definitely aren’t going to want to add nuts. However, I find hempseed to be the perfect substitute. If you don’t have it you can skip, but you could also try adding pumpkin or sunflower seeds. If you have nothing against tree nuts you could also sub out pine nuts for walnuts. That sounds like an intrersting flavor combo to me.
Cheese or no Cheese in Your Homemade Pesto?
Handsdown, we say cheese please! But perhaps there’s a dairy allergy in your family or you simply don’t like cheese (say it ain’t so!). You can totally skip the cheese but I recommend adding a bit more salt since some of this pesto’s salt comes from a good Parmesan cheese. If you don’t have Parmesan you can substitute with Grana Padano or pecorino.
How do I use my Homemade Pesto?
I mean, pasta tossed with kale pesto is always the perfect answer here. You can also use it to top grilled or roasted chicken or garlic bread, toss it with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, or top slices of fresh tomatoes (perfect for summer!) I happen to think it also makes the perfect sandwich spread, especially with a homemade grilled cheese. And on that note, I’ll give you the recipe and go make myself a sandwich.
- 2 cups kale – washed and pulled off the stem
- 1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1/4 cup hempseed (can skip or swap for another seed or nut)
- 1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 TBS oil – olive or hempseed
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- Throw kale, basil, and garlic in the food processor or blender and process until fine – not liquid. Add oil, and mix just until blended. Add salt, hempseed and cheese and mix all together.
- Refrigerate until using.
Don’t forget to save this tasty homemade kale pesto recipe for later!