The wonders of winter pesto

The wonders of winter pesto

The recent snow has made me ache for the foods of summer. You know what I mean. Berries and peaches, fresh corn, and basil for pesto alla genovese. The pesto that was in the freezer is long gone. How will we get through the next few months? Winter pesto.

Pestos can be made with a variety of greens, and I’ve included my recipe for kale pesto below. But you can also make broccoli pesto or asparagus pesto or even green bean pesto.

They are all variations on a theme. If you are using greens, whether basil or kale or spinach, you can add them directly to the food processor without cooking. If you are using a more substantial vegetable, you’ll want to parboil it first. Perhaps reserve the asparagus tips or broccoli florets (instead of putting them in the food processor) to give a little bit more texture to the dish.

Otherwise, these pesto recipes are all essentially: a clove of garlic, an ounce or two of parmesan cheese, a few tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or other toasted nuts or seeds, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt or so, maybe a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, and then olive oil to get to the right consistency.

You can toast nuts and seeds on the stove top or in the oven. This is one of those times where you just have to use your nose. Nuts are toasted when they smell … nutty.

Winter pesto with kale

Author uglyducklingbakery


  • Food processor


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese plus more if serving with pasta
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch kale (~1/2 lb including stems), trimmed from stems
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed


  • Put garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and salt into the food processor and pulverize.
  • Add kale leaves, lemon juice, and the 2 tbsp of olive oil, and process for about 10 seconds.
  • Scrape down sides of food processor and process for another 10 seconds.
  • Adjust to taste with additional olive oil, salt, or lemon juice as desired.

And maybe, just maybe, these winter pesto variations will be enough to get us through until the summer basil starts to appear.

If you make this winter pesto, please comment and share a pic!
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