Basics/ Sauces

Dairy-Free Kale Cashew Pesto

kale cashew pesto in a glass jar on a white and red cloth

Pesto’s a little old school. It entered my food consciousness back in the 1990s. Before then, it was a somewhat exotic pasta sauce served only in Italian restaurants. But in the 1990s, pesto was everywhere. It was made with fresh basil, pine nuts (new at the time), parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and lots of olive oil. I bought it in pint-size plastic containers at the supermarket.

I’d never had much success making pesto at home. Basil is a finicky, easily damaged plant, so it turns brown and looks awful after a day or so. It can taste like licorice if it’s harvested too late.

After going dairy-free, pesto disappeared from my diet. But it reappeared recently when I discovered dairy-free kale pesto made with cashews in my local supermarket. So, I created a version of my own, adding toasted pine nuts (an homage to original pesto) and a little basil for flavor.

I make this pesto with baby kale to avoid removing the tough stems from grown-up kale. Put everything in a blender or food processor, drizzle in the oil, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. This works as an adjunct to any type of meat, as a sandwich spread, and of course on pasta.

Springhouse Turtle Eats

Dairy-Free Kale Cashew Pesto

By Springhouse Turtle
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Use this versatile dairy-free kale cashew pesto on pasta, with meat, fish, poultry or as a sandwich spread.


  • 4 cups tightly packed baby kale
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Spread the pine nuts and cashews on a roasting pan and bake for 12-15 minutes until toasted and light brown.


Remove the nuts from oven and allow to cool.


Mix all ingredients except olive oil together in a blender or food processor.


While the machine is running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin drizzle. You may have to stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides with a spatula.


Store the pesto in a glass container in the fridge for up to a week.

Dairy-free kale cashew pesto requires only a few ingredients.

Toasted pine nuts have a light brown color and toasty scent.

Dairy-free kale cashew pesto can be used with pasta, meats, or as a sandwich spread.

kale cashew pesto in a blue bowl on a white cloth

Springhouse Turtle Eats


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