Vegan Kale & Garlic Scape Pesto

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Make this fresh and tasty kale and garlic scape pesto. This vegan recipe combines garlic scapes with kale and basil for a mellow and garlicky pesto, perfect for using on pasta or pizza. Made with fresh spring produce!

One of the best things about spring is being able to cook with fresh, local vegetables! I live in a cold climate so lots of vegetables are just being planted, but even in early spring we can harvest some things, like kale and garlic scapes which are combined in this delicious pesto recipe.

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What are Garlic Scapes?

Garlic scapes are the flower stalk on top of the garlic plant. They are easy to spot at farmer’s markets or farm stands because the stems form curly spirals.

These stalks are taken off the garlic plant in early spring so that the garlic bulb will develop. That means in May and early June garlic scapes are easy to find at local farmer’s markets, farm stands or in CSA boxes.

curly garlic scapes on a wooden cutting board

The season for garlic scapes is fairly short, but don’t miss it! I love to use these curly stalks in my cooking. Some other delicious ways to use them are to grilled garlic scapes, pickled garlic scapes, garlic scape butter or just cutting them up and using them in recipes like this spinach frittata.


In addition to garlic scapes this pesto recipe features:

  • kale
  • basil
  • almonds
  • satl, lemon juice and oil

This is a vegan pesto recipe, without Parmesan cheese.


My kids don’t mind garlic scapes, but they are not fans of kale. This is because some of the CSAs I belonged to when they were younger sent lots and lots of kale in our weekly vegetable boxes.

Huge bunches kale were delivered each and every week and it was just too much for them. So now they only eat kale if they don’t know they are eating it!

raw kale in a bowl

Luckily this garlic scape pesto recipe is perfect for hiding kale from suspicious kids. The kale works perfectly in this pesto because it cuts the taste of the garlic scapes which gives the pesto a mild and mellow flavor.

Some people make pesto just from garlic scapes, but that is too spicy and garlicky for me. Adding the kale brings the garlic flavor down just enough to make it more kid friendly.

Why No Pine Nuts?

One classic pesto ingredient missing from my recipe is pine nuts. This is mainly because pine nuts are so expensive!

You can certainly use pine nuts in the recipe in place of almonds, but I can’t justify the added cost. The nuts in the recipe are basically a base with most of the flavor coming from the garlic scapes and the basil.

You can also use walnuts or pretty much any other kind of nut you’d like in this pesto recipe.

kale and garlic scape pesto in a white bowl

How to Make Garlic Scape Pesto

If you like to do things the old fashioned way you can make pesto with a mortar and pestle. But for me a food processor is key to making homemade pesto.

1. Add the Vegetables

Add the kale, garlic scapes and basil to the food processor. Rip the kale leaves into smaller pieces to fit them into the food processor.

Start the food processor and pulse it until all the vegetables are minced into tiny pieces.

2. Add the Nuts

Add the almonds and salt and pulse the food processor again to pulverize the almonds and mix them together. You might need to scrape the sides of the food processor.

3. Add the Liquid

Combine the lemon juice and olive oil in a measuring cup. Then turn the food processor on continuously and slowly pour the mixture into it as it runs.

The pesto should form into a nice, spreadable mixture.

overhead view of kale and garlic scape pesto

How to Store

Spoon the pesto into a bowl and cover tightly until you are ready to use it. The pesto keeps for a week in the refrigerator, although it might oxidize on top if not tightly covered.

This also freezes very well. I like to freeze small containers or an ice cube tray so I can enjoy fresh garden flavor all year long!

I have kept it for 6 months in the freezer and it was still delicious when thawed. It does seem to get a little less garlicky after freezing.

bowl of pesto in front of garlic scapes and kale

How to Serve

This kale and garlic scape pesto is very versatile and can be used the same you’d use almost any pesto. My favorite way to use it is to use it instead of pizza sauce on homemade pizza or on chicken, like this keto pesto chicken.

top view of a pesto pizza with mozzarella next to a jar of pesto, kale and wine glasses

Of course it is amazing on pasta too! It also makes a great dip, perfect for dipping fresh carrots, radishes and other favorites.

Find More Ideas for Using Fresh Veggies

kale and garlic scape pesto in a white bowl
4.67 from 6 votes

Vegan Kale and Garlic Scape Pesto

Published By Anne
This vegan recipe combines garlic scapes with kale and basil for a mellow and garlicky pesto, perfect for using on pasta or pizza.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings: 10
Print Save Rate Pin


  • 4 garlic scapes
  • 2 large kale leaves
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • Put the kale, garlic scapes and basil in a food processor and pulse until minced.
    4 garlic scapes, 2 large kale leaves, 8 basil leaves
  • Add the almonds and the salt and pulse until the almonds are finely chopped.
    1/2 cup almonds, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Put the lemon juice and olive oil in a measuring cup. Then turn the food processor on continuously and pour the lemon juice and olive oil in as it runs.
    1/8 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Store for 1 week in the refrigerator, well covered.


  • You can use pine nuts, walnuts or almost any type of nuts you prefer in this recipe.
  • This pesto freezes well, freeze in ice cube trays or small containers for later use.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1g | Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 240mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1156IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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bowl of pesto with kale and garlic scapes in the background
Make this fresh and tasty kale and garlic scape pesto. This vegan recipe combines garlic scapes with kale and basil for a mellow and garlicky pesto, perfect for using on pasta or pizza. Made with fresh spring produce!

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

18 thoughts on “Vegan Kale & Garlic Scape Pesto”

  1. This looks like a great way to “sneak” a little kale into the diet. This pesto sounds delicious! Thanks! (visiting from Foodie Friday)

  2. I’ve been making a spinach pesto, but never tried kale. This is a great idea – I need to sneak some into MY OWN diet too because on its own it’s very bitter. I’ve only been able to eat kale in soups but I’ll be trying this wonderful raw recipe soon!

  3. Visiting from Sweet and Savory Sundays. This is perfect timing for me. I also received kale and garlic scapes in my CSA box this week, and have been wondering what to do with the scapes, as there are a lot of them. I have recently discovered pesto and we really like it. Will adjust recipe as dh is allergic to tree nuts, but this is just the inspiration I was needing. Thank you!

  4. I like experimenting with non-traditional pesto ingredients. I’ve tried spinach, broccoli, and parsley, but not kale. If I ever want to get my husband to eat kale, I have to hide it in this pesto! Thank you for sharing with See Ya in the Gumbo.

  5. 5 stars
    This is a great Pesto, I just love fresh pesto’s! Hope you have had a great weekend and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

  6. Definitely a great way to sneak kale into the diet. I love being sneaky with the foods my kids eat; it’s kinda fun.:) Thanks so much for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week’s issue.


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