Please note that this post contains affiliate links of products that I love and use. This rewards me with a small commission if you choose to buy through the links and none of this will cost you anything – but it does help me pay the bills and deliver you quality content. – Love, Gloria.
Cavolo nero or tuscan kale as it is called is my favourite leafy green. It is simple to grow, demands very little and is so very easy to prepare. I tend to just wilt it in a pan with some garlic or use it in my favourite winter stew. Alternatively I chop it very finely and add it fresh to salads in smaller quantities. I love its nutty flavour and the fact that it doesn’t need much cooking. In fact it benefits from shorter cooking times in terms of flavour and texture. It was only a matter of time until I turned this leafy green into a cavolo nero pesto.
Much to my delight the colour of the cavolo nero pesto turned out to be as vibrant as the taste. It is earthy, strong and with a deep nutty flavour that the kale provides. By using a smaller quantity of basil I have found that this is a great way to keep your basil plants happy on the windowsill without having to cut the whole plant down to make one portion of pesto.
Generally a pesto is made with pine nuts but I opted for the more affordable cashews since the pine taste would be lost in this version. The cashews give this cavolo nero pesto a lighter touch thanks to their sweetness and the creaminess that they provide. While the process is as simple as with any pesto there is one crucial step you should never skip when cooking with this type of kale. Remove the thick leaf stalk, it is especially necessary with larger leaves. Leaving the stem in causes a very unpleasant texture and hair like strings in your pesto.
After this it is just a matter of roughly chopping the leaves up and adding them with the other ingredients to a food processor. I tend to process it until there are a few bigger chunks of cashews left and then I add a few spoons of the boiling pasta water to it. In a normal pesto genovese you wouldn’t need that but keep in mind that kale is a lot denser than basil and profits from the starch and liquid that the pasta water provides.
While it is enough for the traditional pesto to just touch the hot pasta to get “cooked” the kale leaves need a bit of extra help. Just add the hot water and blend for a few more seconds. By doing this you cook the kale just enough to change its taste without altering the bright green colour.
Once your pasta of choice is cooked and ready, spoon the cavolo nero pesto into the pot and give it a good stir. Garnish with some red pepper and salt to taste. Enjoy.
Cavolo Nero Pesto
- 45 g cavolo nero washed and chopped, very tightly packed if measured in cups
- 90 g cashews
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp basil freshly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- 3 tbsp hot water ideally from your boiling pasta or potatoes
- Wash the kale, remove the stems from the leaves and chop it roughly.
- Add it with the remaining ingredients to a food processor - except the hot water.
- Process until it is a smooth mass with a few cashew chunks. Add the hot water and process for a few more seconds.
- Serve immediately with pasta, potatoes, zucchini noodles or whatever you prefer.
Louis Tylor says
Wow, very inventive and a very good use of fresh kale!
Can you make it nut free?
You could use sunflower seeds. – Love, G.
This recipe is great, the fact that it tastes wonderfully nutty is so nice!
That was delicious!
Denay DeGuzman says
This beautiful pesto pasta dish looks absolutely amazing! The flavors just jump off the page. I’d love to try your recipe this weekend. We’re having company over for dinner and I know everyone would really enjoy this Cavolo Nero Pesto.
I knew it was easy to make pesto but I had never made it. I would like to attempt making it.
Amber Myers says
Oh my gosh, yummy. I love my pasta! I’ve never tired this one before. I must!
Ophelia Tang says
I love pesto sauce and this looks so delicious. I would love to make it asap. Thanks for sharing.
Never tried making a pesto before but this looks awesome and impressive. I am sure the flavours are just something to be desired.
Sarah Bailey says
What an interesting sounding recipe, I have to admit I love everything pasta, so I could definitely give this a whirl.
Helene Cohen Bludman says
Pesto is one of my favorites! I like the idea of this recipe having less fat than the traditional. Can’t wait to try it.
Hannah Marie says
This is the first time I saw from the leaves. We always use ready to use sauces. It looks yummy, I love the recipe!
Wow this looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I love coming across new vegan recipes, will have to give it a try.
I’m a huge fan of pesto and I’m loving the color of this one. Can’t wait to give it a try!
David Elliott says
You had me at Pesto. It looks delicious. And I think cashews are a great alternative nut to use. It looks so delicious.
Claudia Krusch says
This dish looks so delicious and easy to make. I will have to get the ingredients I need to make some this week. I am sure it will be a big hit.
What a great recipe. Looks and sounds really healthy. Hope to try it out sometime.
What a great recipe. Looks and sounds really healthy and delicious. Hope to try it out sometime.
mai nguyen says
althoungh i dont like the pesto but it still a amazing recipe to me. thanks for sharing this
Mmmmm a pesto sounds amazing! I made one homemade years ago. I really should try to do that again.
I’ve never tried pesto before, but I’m always willing to try something at least once!! I’ll have to give this a try sometime soon! Thanks for sharing!
Jennifer L says
Wow I’ve never tried making a kale pesto before. I’ve tried basil, cilantro and other herb ones but never a kale. But it sounds absolutely delicious and so appropriate given I have 2 bags of kale ready to make cavolo nero pesto. Yum!
Wow!!! tHIS cAVOLO NERO PESTO LOOKS so good! I need more of this in my life, and I going to pin this for later. Yum!
natalie z says
I love using all types of fresh greens from our garden. This looks like such a delicious way to use my greens!