Kale and walnut pesto recipe

This pesto packs a nutrient punch.
Kale and walnut pesto Photo by Stacy Feyer-Salo

Mandy Thompson said her interest in cooking didn’t come about until she had children. “It was important to me that our children have a good relationship with food.”

After gaining knowledge through devouring cookbooks “like novels” and bingeing cooking shows, Thompson began teaching her kids and their friends how to cook.

“A friend with KDL (Kent District Library) asked me if I’d be willing to teach a kids cooking class, and I’ve now been teaching them for six years,” she noted.

In March 2020, Thompson had decided to follow her cooking passion by becoming a personal chef — and then COVID-19 hit. Though she put her plans on hold, she began filming cooking videos for social media and cooking meals for a group of friends each week. “It gives me something to do, keeps me active in the kitchen and feeds my friends.”


1 bunch of kale
½ cup fresh basil
4-8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
½ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1½ cups extra virgin olive oil


Rinse the kale and pat dry. Strip the leaves from the hard stems and discard stems —
they can be bitter.

Tear the kale into smaller pieces and place into a food processor. Pulse to break the kale down; continue this until all of the kale has been added.

Add the leaves of the basil, the garlic and the walnuts. Pulse to break down some.
Scrape down the side and then add the salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Turn the food processor on and slowly stream in the olive oil.

You may need to add more or less olive oil, depending on how large your bunch of kale was, or how you prefer the consistency. (This recipe does make a thicker pesto. We use it for a variety of dishes and adjust consistency as needed.)

Store pesto in the fridge for up to two weeks. It also freezes very well.

Add to pasta, roasted vegetables, rice dishes, scrambled eggs, sandwiches and more.

This story can be found in the March 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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