Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto

Published on Friday, January 27, 2023 by Lisa Green

When one thinks of Pesto, one of the first ingredients that comes to mind is garlic. 

Lots of garlic.  

This Pesto recipe has NO garlic but doesn’t lack any of the robust flavors that a traditional pesto carries. Coming up with a pesto recipe without any garlic was definitely a challenge. After doing a little research, celery and fennel kept popping up, so I decided to give that flavor combination a try. I chose star anise rather than fennel seeds. 

Star anise has the same flavor profile, but the pieces are larger, so the possibility of over-flavoring the sauce with anise is harder to do. Anise is a very strong flavor, typically associated with black licorice. Don’t let that scare you away, though. It provides just the right amount of bite that fresh garlic would have.

3 Tips for Optimal Kale Selection and Storage

  • The flavor peak for Kale is in colder seasons, though this wonderful vegetable is available year-round.
  • Avoid choosing Kale that is wilted, or has brown or yellow coloring.
  • Store Kale in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

For this recipe:

If pumpkin seeds aren’t your go-to, any seed/nut will work. Pine nuts are typically found in pestos, but they can be rather pricey. Also, toasting the nuts is my personal preference. I like the flavor that toasting brings out, but this step is not necessary. 

This sauce can be used on its own as a dip. I was eating it with tortilla chips, delicious! This sauce can also be put on chicken, shrimp, pork, and portobello mushrooms. The choice is yours!  

This pesto is delicious, GERD-friendly, and nutritious! 

[[ recipeID=recipe-8ld0jm7c2, title=Kale Pesto ]]

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Kale Pesto

Servings: 4


  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins




  • 2 cups of kale
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 2 star anise
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or any nut/seed)
  • A splash of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. In a saute pan on medium to low heat add the olive oil, the star anise, and the chopped celery.  In this process, we are accomplishing two things. Softening the celery, and infusing the oil and celery with the flavor of the star anise. Star anise has a similar flavor to fennel seeds. It doesn’t take much to incorporate this robust flavor into the oil. 
  2. Cook the celery for approximately 5 minutes on low. Set aside. The oil is going to be used to finish the pesto sauce.  
  3. (Optional) Next, in a saute pan on medium to high heat, toast the pumpkin seeds. As with all nuts and seeds, they contain a lot of oil, so keep a watch, they burn easily!
  4. Now it’s time to put this pesto together. In a food processor add the pumpkin seeds, parmesan, celery, and then Kale. Now add the oil from the anise and celery (do not use the star anise). Pulse the ingredients, the consistency should be chunky, not a fully emulsified sauce. 
  5. Finish with a little salt and pepper and a splash of fresh lemon juice!

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1

Serving Per Recipe: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20.3g 31%
Saturated Fat 3.7g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Sodium 108.7mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 2.9g 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g 7%
Sugars 0.6g
Protein 5.6g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs: