The Wine Country Table || Walnut Kale Pesto

It never fails – every week I load up on vibrant bunches of kale and leafy greens at the grocery store. Then 5-6 days later, I find them sadly forgotten. They’ve been shoved in the back of the crisper drawer, wilted and just begging for attention! I desperately try to hide them in some type of soup or frittata before I hit the store again, buy more, and repeat the viscous cycle. That is until I learned about kale pesto.

A large shallow bowl with a blue and cream decorative edge is piled high with noodles coated in a bright green pesto. There are walnuts and grated cheese on top and a fork and spoon on the side of the bowl. There is a glass if white wine next to the bowl.

It’s madness really. Why on earth was I desperate to find ways to use those lackluster leafy greens when I could have been making this walnut kale pesto the whole time?!

This walnut kale pesto is a lifesaver recipe for helping me clear my crisper drawer. It is also a fresh, welcome update to its sometimes overplayed, classic counterpart – basil pesto.

Janet Fletcher's new cookbook The Wine Country Table is being held over a table setting that is styled with walnut kale pesto pasta.

This pesto recipe comes from Janet Fletcher’s new cookbook, The Wine Country Table. This book is chock-full of gorgeous imagery from 23 stunning California farms and wineries. Also included are 50 vibrant recipes inspired by California’s wine-growing regions. When the lovely folks at California Wines sent me this book, I was desperately in need of a little ray of California sunshine. We have been missing the west coast so badly! In only a few short months, we will be there for our summer visit. Until then, I’ll be getting my Cali fix by cooking more delicious recipes from this book!

A cream colored bowl filled with vibrant green pesto dressed pasta. There are other bowls filled with pasta in teh background. They all have a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and grated cheese.


Little Gem Lettuces with Olive Oil Poached Tuna on a white platter sitting on a white table. There is a glass of rose on the table.

Little Gem Lettuces with Olive Oil Poached Tuna|| This dish requires a lot of olive oil for poaching, but you won’t waste a drop. Use some of the flavorful poaching oil in the salad dressing. You can then strain and refrigerate the remainder for cooking greens or dressing future salads. The strained oil will keep for a month.

Golden brown chicken thighs in a pan wit their roasting juices and green olives

Roast Chicken with Meyer Lemon and Smoked Paprika || Spain’s aromatic pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika) gives these succulent chicken thighs a deep, ruddy color. They roast on a bed of red onion and sliced Meyer lemon. You’ll want to serve every drop of the lemony, garlicky pan juices.

duck legs in a roasting pan with garlic cloves, dried plums, and cilantro.

Red-Wine Braised Duck Legs with Dried Plums || Dried plums soften in the braising juices and contribute their sweet, fruity flavor as the duck legs slowly braise to tenderness. Red wine adds depth and a touch of acidity to balance the richness of the duck. Preliminary roasting renders most of the duck fat, which you can use to sauté turnips or carrots.

If you’ve tried this Walnut Kale Recipe, I would be so grateful if you would rate it. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I just love hearing from you and your reviews and comments really help others that visit This Mess is Ours!


Walnut Kale Pesto

A large shallow bowl with a blue and cream decorative edge is piled high with noodles coated in a bright green pesto. There are walnuts and grated cheese on top and a fork and spoon on the side of the bowl. There is a glass if white wine next to the bowl.

Trust us, make a double batch of this kale pesto because it is delicious on EVERYTHING we’ve tried it on from bagels and cream cheese to eggs, minestrone, chicken, and roasted potatoes! 

Wine suggestion:  California Chardonnay or Pinot Gris/Grigio

  • Author: From The Wine Country Table by Janet Fletcher
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, Gluten Free


1/2 pound Tuscan (lacinato) kale
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, divided
1 large clove garlic, sliced
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
kosher or sea salt
1 pound fresh gluten free egg fettuccini pasta ( I used Trader Joe’s ), fresh pappardelle, OR dried linguine


Cut out and discard the tough central rib from each kale leaf. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the kale leaves and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze dry and chop coarsely. You should have about 3/4 cup. 
Put the kale, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, and the garlic in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.  With the motor running, add the olive oil gradually through the feed tube and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl one or twice. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Season the pesto highly with salt. 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Just before the pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup of the boiling pasta water and whisk it into the pesto to thin it. Scoop out and set aside another 1 cup of the pasta water . Then drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot off the heat. Add as much of the pesto as you like; you may not need it all depending on how well sauced you like your pasta. Toss with tongs, adding as much of the reserved pasta water as needed to keep the noodles from clumping. 
Divide among individual bows. Top each portion with a shower of cheesed with the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, dividing them evenly. Pass additional cheese at the table. Serve immediately. 


Unlike basil pesto, this kale pesto keeps its bright color for at least a day. Spoon it into a lidded container, press plastic wrap against the surface, and cap tightly. 

Keywords: Gluten Free, pesto, kale

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Want to be a part of our online community outside of the blog? It’s easy!! All you have to do is follow @THISMESSISOURS on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, YOUTUBE, or PINTEREST to see cooking demos and peeks into our day to day life.

What are the health benefits of kale?

Kale is one of the most nutritious foods out there and the list of health benefits seems to never end. This low calorie vegetable holds in 1 cup much more than an entire day’s recommended dose of Vitamins A,K, and C. The valuable nutrients in kale keep your eyes healthy, lower cholesterol, and supply your body with much needed minerals that most people do not get enough of.

Click here for more information about the health benefits of kale.

Frequently Asked Questions


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating