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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Green Garden Pesto

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Spring in the garden means a marathon of leaves, but nothing is wasted with green pesto!

Homemade garden kale pesto with walnuts • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019

There is no need to wait until the basil is ready mid-summer to make a pesto from the garden harvest. Many kinds of fresh leaves of leafy greens make a great pesto. When early, easy-growing ones like kale, silverbeet, spinach and roquette are popping out faster than light speed, I use my cooking scissors and pick a big bunch of leaves while they are still soft. The more they grow, the more I thin them by pulling out bunches to keep the best leaves for cooking and the rest for the chickens. Then, I let the nicest ones grow more extensive and regularly pick leaves as I need. If happy and protected from pests, they’ll be productive for a long time before showing flowers. As for roquette, I pick as much as I can before it goes up, which I’m happy to let go of as flowers attract bees, and they will self-seed for the next round! I do the same with herbs like coriander, which always go to seed once the weather warms up. Herbs also make a great pesto to use as a paste to flavour many dishes. Mint and parsley also do great together, which is good as they are more than easy to grow.

Garden green pesto "free-style" © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20

Most pesto recipe ingredients include a combination of herbs or leaves, lemon, garlic, nuts, oil, spices, and parmesan cheese, all mixed together in the food processor. The classic basil pesto is made with roasted pine nuts, which I deeply love, but any other nuts like walnut, macadamia, pecan, peanut, pistachio, cashew, almond or kernels like pumpkin pepitas and sunflower seeds work perfectly. I have to admit that my favourite pesto is made with silverbeet and locally grown hazelnuts. At this time of year, organic lemon can still be waving at you, so that’s an excellent recipe for using them before they become overripe. Homemade pesto can be used in salads, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas, bruschettas, pastas, quinoas, etc. I freeze the excess in spring and summer in small containers or ice cubes for later use. I prefer making most of my favourite combinations without garlic, and then I’ll add it depending on what recipe I will use the pesto for. I don’t have one precise recipe, I make it "free-style", but here are some suggestions!


INGREDIENTS (approximately):

Fresh and washed baby green leaves of choice* (enough to fill the processor container)

½-1 cup roasted nuts or kernels of choice*

½-1 lemon, juiced

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced (optional)

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper


Prepare and mix all ingredients in a food processor.

Adjust ingredients to taste.

Serve or save in the freezer in small containers or ice cubes.


Baby kale:

With baby Red Russian kale and roasted walnuts


With fresh roquette and roasted pumpkin pepitas


With young chard leaves and roasted hazelnuts

Herbs & flowers:

With mint, parsley, garlic flower and roasted sunflower seeds

Coriander paste:

With coriander, turmeric, ginger and roasted pistachios

Classic basil:

With basil, garlic and roasted pine nuts

Spicy Thaï:

With thaï basil, garlic, chilli, ginger and cashew


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