Kale Stem Pesto from The CSA Cookbook

Serves 1½ cups     adjust servings

How many kale recipes have you come across in which the directions tell you to reserve the stems for “another use” or even discard them altogether? Well, friends, this is your other use. Those rigid stems and ribs we often remove are the star of the show here, and they’re every bit as fresh and earthy as their leafy counterparts. Used raw, they’re a great pairing for the tangy lemon in this pesto. You’re not solely limited to kale stems, either; try this with your other neglected stems, such as collards, cauliflower, or broccoli.


  • 1 cup chopped kale stems
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley with stems
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Add all the ingredients except the oil to a food processor and pulse until crumbly, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Continue pulsing and add the oil in a slow, steady stream until well blended. Some people like their pesto super smooth, but I prefer a bit of texture, so process to your liking. For a thick paste that you can spread onto sandwiches and pizzas, use only ¼ cup of oil. For a thin sauce that you can stir into pastas and soups, use a full ½ cup.


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