Nut-free super kale pesto, 15p


Last week, I was trying new things for upcoming recipes for my Guardian column, when I came across a bag of kale on special offer at Waitrose – 75p for a massive 200g bag.

Anyway, I used a scant handful of it for a recipe, and this evening decided to make the rest into kale pesto…

Ingredients (makes 14 portions – freezing the rest in ice cube trays!)

200g kale
150ml sunflower oil
150ml water
30ml lemon juice
80g grated strong hard cheese
1 chilli

Basically…. De-head the chilli and slice it. Stuff as much kale as you can fit into your blender (you can add more later). Throw in the chilli, grated cheese, oil, lemon and water and blend vigorously until the kale has vanished into a vivid green pulp. Turn the blender off, add any remaining kale, and blend again.

Store in a clean sealed jar with extra oil on top, and keep in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in ice cubes.

I served mine straight over spaghetti with a pinch of extra chilli and lightly toasted breadcrumbs – recipe for THAT delicious dinner to follow.

Also looking forward to spreading some on toast, topping with cheese, and grilling lightly for lunch… I’ll keep you posted on that one too…

AND I reckon it would make a great spread to top a pizza base, topped with tomatoes and cheese…

Costs worked out at Sainsburys, apart from the kale (Waitrose) and correct at time of writing.

200g kale 75p. 3l oil £4 (150ml 30p). 250ml lemon juice 60p (30ml 7p). 200g hard strong cheese £2.30 (80g 92p) 10 bird eye chillies 75p (1 chilli 8p). Total cost of ingredients used: £2.12 Makes 14 portions of kale pesto at 15p each.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


    • Waitrose is the closest one to me too. I wouldn’t do my main shop there but they have some good offers sometimes. And good reductions too sometimes, can work out quite cheap if the reduced items are on a multi buy offer cos you still get that discount. Always worth a look. I got a couple of loaves for 10p each the other day.

  1. Thank you very much for this – I have to confess, I’d not have thought in a million years to make pesto from kale. All SORTS of possibilities now present themselves! L x

  2. I do like kale now and then and I make my own pesto too though usually from herbs in my garden, but don’t start going all posh on us will you Jack, ‘cos we don’t all aspire to Guardian food column recipes! Keep on keeping it real ;-D

  3. Omg, amazing!!!! I loved pesto on just about anything, until recently I have started having allergic reactions to a lot of foods I used to love such as pesto as it contains nuts. I find it so difficult to cook anything as I have to be extra careful and I don’t buy prepared foods anymore.
    Also your porridge with sultanas is amaze balls, thanks for all the recipes I feel happy now!! Maria x

  4. yeah i explain my visits to waitrose by its promixty – if its milk or basics – would cost more to fire up the car & go elsewhere!

    I must get some kale, everyone seems to be on about kale. i’m told kale chips are awesome!

  5. I think you must have been reading my mind Jack! I was given 3 bags of spinach by my father who has grown far too much on his allotment and I spent most of yesterday thinking how I could use it up without it costing too much. I looked up pesto recipes but the overall price was far too expensive, then I see this post one simple change from Kale to spinach and I have everything I need in my cupboard. Thank you so much, will definitely be putting this recipe to the test!

  6. Kale makes great pesto as does the large bunches of inexpensive cilantro that the
    Indian markets have in my area.
    Our weather was so bizarre this summer that my basil plants never did well and it is way too pricey in the shops.
    I always add a few cloves of fresh garlic as well.

      • I didn’t to mine as it was curly winter kale, the thick stalky bits in the middle are quite bitter so I didn’t want to add that garlic kick to them too – but I would definitely experiment with roasted garlic in the future!
        As with all pesto nuts would be lovely, but Mrs J is allergic so none in mine 🙁 Pine nuts are great in pesto, but for a cheaper alternative Sainsburys Basics range have a bag of salted cashews for just under £1 which will give a similar creamy taste – just rinse them to get rid of most of the salt first 🙂

      • The basics salted cashews – just rinsing them to use them in cooking. Good tip Jack. Never thought of it.

      • On occasion, depending on the dish, I use raw sunflower seeds for both texture and a creamy effect. I do not use any nuts or seeds when making large batchee which I will store for later use.
        Pine nuts are stupidly expensive here and most are from China so I wouldn’t buy them even if they were afforable.

  7. Ever thought of making massaged kale salad? sounds bit weird but if you, literally, massage kale with bit of oil,salt and lemon juice until softened it makes a great salad base. It also keeps for ages in a sealed container in fridge and is fantastically good for you!

  8. Kale is also very easy to grow if you have space. My Small Girl and I planted some a few months ago and forgot about it and now it’s lovely!

  9. Sounds yum! Going to try it with some chard leaves, which I still have loads of in my garden. It and herbs seeming to be be about the only thing I can grow with any abundance 🙂

  10. Thank you, with a garden full of Kale and an absent daughter that will come in handy. Moreso as I’m constantly looking for ways to introduce produce to food banks . They can’t directly accept perishables, understandable but frustrating as I like to share my gluts. Xx

  11. As I have a whole bed of Kale about to be harvested some of it will be turned into pesto and stored in the freezer in little frozen ‘dollops’ ready for pasta dishes throughout the Winter.

    Waitrose can be brilliant for the odd bargain and as I registered for a Waitrose card I can now get a free newspaper every time I spend over £5 there and the ‘Weekend’ Waitrose paper is free AND the monthly magazine, usually well worth a read. In some Waitrose branches having the card also qualifies you for a free daily tea or coffee in their cafes, unfortunately ours has a Costa so no free coffee for me 🙁

  12. I use Kale in my mashed potatoes Yummy . add a good handful half way through cooking the spuds… One way of getting greens into the little ones ..yummy

  13. Nettle pesto is very good too, need to cook the nettles first! I make mine with garlic, almonds and cheddar.

  14. Reblogged this on Wild Fig and Cassis and commented:
    Found this great blog for those of us on a budget, it also has a great search bar where you type an ingredient and you find recipes for the ingredient. A great way of using up stuff, oh and there’s loads of vegan recipes.

  15. my goodness, i just made this yesterday and it’s addictive. going to have it on my chips tonight…had it with rice noodles and veg yesterday 🙂 BTW I made it vegan by swapping the cheese for yeast flakes…really yummy :)))

  16. Thank you Jack- this has been a staple for a while now. I always make sure I have a few pots of this in my freezer.

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