Kale Stem Pesto: The pasta sauce you didn't know you needed, and almost threw away

Next time you strip those kale leaves off, definitely, definitely hold on to those stalks.

Next time you strip those kale leaves off, definitely, definitely hold on to those stalks

(Photography by Leila Ashtari)

This recipe is simple, easy and vegan too. Roasted kale stems are a fantastic addition to sun-dried tomatoes and almonds in this undeniably delectable pesto. Use this pesto to flavour soups, couscous, eggs or rice, to season meat, or simply swirl it into pasta.

Kale Stem Pesto

*If you are using dry-packed sun dried tomatoes, soak them in water overnight, so they blend more easily. 

**Buy roasted almonds for this recipe, or to roast almonds at home, bake them in a 350F degree oven on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes, stirring halfway through.


  • 7 oz chopped kale stems (from 2 bunches of kale)
  • 2 tsp and 1 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 3 oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil*
  • 1 cup roasted almonds**
  • 3 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp white sugar


Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the stems in for 2 ½ minutes. Drain well and pat them dry with a paper towel or cloth.

Toss the stems with the garlic, the 4 teaspoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast the stems in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through.

Blend the stems with the remaining ingredients in a food processor until the almonds are finely chopped, about 15-30 seconds for a pesto-like texture or 1-2 minutes for a smoother spread.

Yield: Makes 3 cups

Ariel Lefkowitz is a Canadian/American food writer, chef, and video journalist based in Montreal, QC. She has been a trained chef for over a decade. Ariel believes that cooking is a critical part of self-care that should be joyful, sustainable and accessible. She is currently developing a comedic cooking show, titled ‘Cooking in the Cut’. Follow her at @cookinginthecut.