Walnut & Kale Stem Pesto

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Stems are underrated. Why do we only eat the leaves? There is so much nutrition in the stems of vegetables and herbs (parsley, broccoli, kale!), it’s such a waste to toss them.

If you’ve ever used kale for salads or sautés, you’ve probably had leftover stems. This recipe is a quick, easy and nutritious way to make use of your scraps. I love serving it with kelp noodles (pictured here) for a light lunch or alongside salmon or chicken. Also great with crudité.

Walnuts are high in omega 3s and protein, giving this pesto a nice nutty flavor and anti-inflammatory boost. I’ve also made this with almonds, and it came out great.

Pecorino is a great substitute for parmesan, as it’s made from sheep instead of cow’s milk, which I find a bit easier on the digestive system for anyone with diary sensitivities. If you want to make this recipe vegan (or RASA Challenge-approved), omit the cheese and add a little extra salt or nutritional yeast.

This delicious pesto is pictured here with kelp noodles. A delicious pasta alternative, and great vehicle for this creamy sauce. Soak your kelp noodles in water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice for a few minutes before dressing.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1 cup of pesto



1 cup of fresh basil, loosely packed

1 cup of kale stems (or whatever you have on hand!)

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup of olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp lemon zest

1 clove of garlic

Small chunk of pecorino cheese (about 1 inch)

1 tablespoon filtered water

Salt and pepper to taste


Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. If your pesto is too thick, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.