Easy Vegan Kale & Cashew Pesto Recipe

Pesto is one of those delicious and versatile Italian condiments that can brighten up any dish, from sandwiches and wraps to pastas and soups. This vegan Kale & Cashew Pesto is flavorful, easy to make, and packed with healthy ingredients!

Kale&Cashew Pesto (vertical)

The classic pesto recipe calls for pine nuts and parmesan cheese. I’m one of those people who doesn’t tolerate pine nuts very well, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that raw cashews make a great substitution for pine nuts while adding to the creaminess of the final product.

As for parmesan cheese, I didn’t miss it at all in this recipe. I used to be a huge fan of cheese even though dairy made my stomach misbehave and my skin break out pretty bad. Switching to a vegan diet about six months ago helped me overcome all of those issues as well as recalibrated my taste buds. No cheese in my pesto? No problem, it’s still delicious!

Adding kale to this pesto was another liberty I took while experimenting with the recipe. I boiled the kale leaves for 30 seconds to bring out their bright green color.

This pesto can be used in lots and lots of recipes, just use your imagination! I smeared some of it on bread to make grilled eggplant sandwiches:

Pesto sandwich

Other ingredients for these sandwiches: lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, avocado, and Daiya mozzarella shreds. Oven-baked sweet potato fries were great on the side.

Another classic use for pesto is pasta, naturally! For this pasta, I added a couple tablespoons of my Kale & Cashew Pesto to cooked spaghetti, then topped it with vegetables quickly stir-fried in a wok. You can use any combination of veggies to make this quick and flavorful meal, I used carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, chickpeas, and some leftover grilled eggplant:

Vegan Pesto Pasta

Next time I make a batch of my Minestrone Soup with a Twist, I’m definitely adding some of this pesto!

Easy Vegan Kale & Cashew Pesto Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup

Easy Vegan Kale & Cashew Pesto Recipe

Classic pesto gets a delicious vegan makeover in this recipe and becomes even healthier with the addition of kale leaves. Spread it on sandwiches, add to soups and pastas - the choice is yours!


  • 1 cup kale leaves, packed, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (more or less to taste), peeled and halved
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (omit if you don't like it)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (optional if you are oil-free)
  • pinch of salt, to taste


  1. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Throw in kale leaves, cook for 30 seconds until bright green, drain.
  2. Add cooked kale to the bowl of a food processor equipped with a sharp blade. Add basil, cashews, halved garlic cloves, optional nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Blend until the mixture forms a coarse paste, 1-2 min. Scrape the sides as needed. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice.
  3. If using olive oil, pour it in slowly while the food processor is running.
  4. The pesto is done once the mixture forms a smoother paste.
  5. Use in any recipes that call for pesto. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

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About Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.

12 Responses to Easy Vegan Kale & Cashew Pesto Recipe

  1. Sue Walker says:

    Looks yummy!!

  2. barbette says:

    This is the best recipe!
    I live in a warm climate and have kale and basil in the garden.
    I make it about every 3 days.
    The fresh garlic and kale are great for the immune system and so tasty too.
    Thank you for a delicious and very healthy recipe.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Hello ! I love pesto and have tried every recipe. I made small modifications to this one. I split the cashew amount with walnuts, and added a TB of Nutritional yeast. One of my best pesto’s ever! Thanks for the tip about adding the kale!

    • Alina says:

      That’s interesting – I didn’t think of adding nutritional yeast to this pesto, but it sounds like it could be delicious! Thanks for the tip Elisabeth!

  4. Pingback: Cod marinated in mint-kale pesto, with roasted carrots | The Curried Nut

  5. Katherine says:

    Hi Alina,

    I love your kale and cashew pesto recipe. And I would love to feature it in our website, GreenThickies.

    I won’t be posting the actual recipe. I will only post a small snippet and one image from the post, and give credits back to you and link back to the recipe page. Would that be okay with you?

    Thanks a lot 🙂

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