Raw Avocado Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles

by Susan on March 18, 2013

Raw Avocado Kale Pesto


Raw Avocado Kale Pasta @Rawmazing.com

Raw Acocado Kale Pesto @Rawmazing.com

I don’t remember when I had my first bite of pesto. I do remember that it was love at first taste. The explosion of garlic, the freshness of the basil, the decadence of the cheese, I was hooked. My second epiphany came when I was introduced to avocado pesto through one of Chloe Coscarelli’s recipes. I mean seriously. Beyond delicious. 

Pesto can be made from many different ingredients. You can use the traditional pine nuts, or walnuts. I have seen it made with kale or parsley. It is one of those recipes that can adapt to a ton of changes. Making it raw / vegan is simple. Just omit the cheese. Honestly, with all of these other tasty ingredients, you will never miss it.

My version uses avocados and kale! I can never get enough kale and why not incorporate it into an avocado pesto? This raw recipe is simple to throw together. Toss the pesto with some zucchini noodles and tomatoes and you have a very satisfying meal. 

Avocados contain a an amazing array of carotenoids. They are also anti-inflammatory. They help digestion, are high in vitamin K, fiber, folate and vitamin C. Avocados are also high in fat but it is considered to be the good fat that helps you absorb nutrients, protects you from inflammation, and helps lower your risk of heart disease. Did you know that pine nuts are high in iron and magnesium? And kale, well, we all know what a nutritional powerhouse kale is. At only 36 calories a cup, the kale in this recipe helps lighten it up while providing you with fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron and more. 

I love this mixed with spiralized zucchini noodles (I use this spiralizer: Spiral Slicer) but you can also use kelp noodles

Equipment needed:

Raw Avocado Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles

Serves 4

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts plus some for garnish
  • 1 small bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces (about 1 BIG handful)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch Himalayan salt and fresh cracked pepper

1. Spiralize the zucchini. Set aside in a colander to drain excess liquid)

2. Start food processor running. Drop cloves of garlic in, one at a time. 

3. Add avocado, olive oil, nutritional yeast, pine nuts and lemon juice. Pulse until blended.

4. Add kale and pulse until kale is well chopped and incorporated.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then toss with the zucchini noodles and tomatoes.

*Chef’s note: Be careful of the source of your pine nuts. Some contain nuts that are not digestible and can cause problems. Please do your research and make sure you are getting your nuts from a good source.


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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean-Luc March 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Susan … this recipe looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it! I have to say, your photography is stunning. It makes me hungry just to look at it. Keep those innovative, delicious recipes coming.


Susan March 19, 2013 at 6:27 am

Question….what are ur thoughts if one doesn’t have pine nuts. Could you substitute cashews….the dish looksan sounds so delicious. An I must say easy ingredients also… I did get a spiralizer an love it!


Susan March 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

You can use walnuts or macadamia nuts. Walnuts will make it a little more bitter. Cheers!


Theda March 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

Hey Susan, Looking forward to making this. Thanks for sharing. Your photos are amazing!


Nancy March 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea of pesto with no basil! But I do love everything on this list of ingredients. I’m going to try it as is. I can always add basil later…

As usual, you have done a bang-up job on the photography. :)


Susan March 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Nancy…try it without the basil. You will love it!


Rebecca March 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Chef’s note: Be careful of the source of your pine nuts. Some contain nuts that are not digestible and can cause problems. Please do your research and make sure you are getting your nuts from a good source.

How do I know what a good source is for nuts? Can you recommend a good source for buying nuts? (it will have to be online due to where I live)


Susan March 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm

There are a lot of good articles about the pine nut issues on-line. I would google it and see what you can find. I have not done enough research to feel comfortable to actually recommend a specific place yet. Thanks for asking!


Deanne March 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Thankyou for this timely recipe> I was just craving pesto, but forgot to get some basil in the grocery store. Have all the ingredients in fridge for this recipe…. Multiplied blessings to you


Shernell March 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm

This recipe is exactly what I need,it’s low fat and doesn’t utilize cashews. Thanks for sharing it Susan.


setembrina March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

i did not have pine nuts so i used walnuts instead.
i also added a few red pepper flakes cause i like a little heat.
my husband who is anti-kale walked by and grabbed a spoonful & said, “yummy” not knowing he just ate kale. :)


Susan March 24, 2013 at 10:47 am

Sounds wonderful! I am glad your husband got some kale!


Sue April 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Can this be made in a high speed blender?


Susan April 4, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Sue, Yes but I would be very careful not to over-process it. Especially the kale.


Caroline April 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

I substituted the kale with basil….. And it was amazing!!!


Susi April 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I used kelp noodles! Yum!


Lyssy Cooks April 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!


Lyssy Cooks April 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thank you for posting! Yum!


Lyssy Cooks April 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Yum! It is really good!


Patricia April 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm

This was my first foray into both raw zucchini noodles and kale, and an excellent introduction it was–to both ingredients. =3 Everyone in my family thought this was delicious.

I’m enjoying paging through all the recipes you’ve posted–many of them I’ve bookmarked to make in the near future.


Lisa W. April 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm

My daughter and I are new to eating raw. We just made this fabulous recipe! Loved it! Thanks so much.


Susan April 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I am so glad you liked it! I had it for dinner last night! :-)


Monica April 17, 2013 at 12:03 am

I love your recipes I was wondering if I am able to use a Vitamix for any of your ingredients you blog about? Since I have it I don’t want to spend money on a food Processor at the moment. Help!


Susan April 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm

You can use a food processor but honestly, you would have to be very careful and watch so that you don’t over-process.


Julia April 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

This looks great! I’m new to raw food and have been wanting to try zucchini noodles. Can you please tell me how to spiralize zuccini? Did you use a food processor for this?


Susan April 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm

You would use a spiralizer to make the noodles.


Laura April 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Susan, I made this last night and I have to tell you how much I enjoyed it! I had it for lunch today too… so easy on my stomach and so filling. It was delightful. Thank you so much! The pecan faux meat balls are on the menu next. What fun.


Jan April 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

absolutely the BEST pesto and I’m a long time basil grower for just pesto gal
this is soooo much easier and better tasting and better for me !!! thanks Susan


kris May 3, 2013 at 6:17 am

If u have nut allergies what could be substituted for flavor?


Susan May 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

You could try pumpkin seeds but you might have to adjust some of the other ingredients.


Aleta May 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I used half sunflower seeds, half walnuts and it wasn’t bitter in the least. I’ve been raw 7 years and thought I’d tried it all but I never thought to replace basil (or I often do spinach) with kale for fear it would be just awful. But it was awesome! Thanks for the great recipe!


Jayne May 6, 2013 at 2:43 am

Really enjoyed this. Just starting to incorporate Raw food in to my lifestyle and just love trying new recipes. Thank you so much.


Juju May 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

When you refer to calories are you just talking about the kale or a serving of the recipe? If its the kale could you please give me the calories for the whole recipe? Thanks, it looks delicious!


Susan May 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

The kale has 36 calories a cup. If you need the nutritional information there are many recipe calculators on-line. :-)


miha June 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

just made this… it’s AMAZING!!!


Lovely July 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

Made it this weekend and I am in love…… I L-o-v-e Avocado, but this recipe has heightened my affection!!


Claudia November 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I made this for dinner (actually eating it right now!) and it is so YUMMY, so delicious and so fresh. This is the first time I have Kale and it tastes amazing in this pesto sauce. Thanks again Susan :)


Laura January 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Freaking bombski!!!


Timandra January 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Hi, Susan. I was wondering if there were any alternatives for a spiralizer on zucchini?


Susan January 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Yes! I often use a mandoline. You can see how here: http://www.rawmazing.com/cucumber-noodles-with-coconut-lime-cumin-dressing/ Cheers!


Victoria February 18, 2014 at 12:20 am

Delicious! And very filling!


Momma February 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Can this be frozen?


Susan March 1, 2014 at 10:20 am

You can try, but I haven’t done it. The basil might not fair well… Cheers!


Ashley February 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

What does it do to the recipe if you do not use the nutritional yeast?


Susan March 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

It will just change the taste. It won’t be as flavorful. Cheers!


Cori Roth May 29, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Love Kale…..and not a big fan of Basil pesto so look forward to trying this. I have used stinging nettles in the past to make pesto….never thought of using Kale…..so thank you so much……CORI


Shadi Mirza June 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm

This recipe was phenomenal. My wife and I are always looking for ways to incorporate vegetables into our diet without eating boring salad. We get the sensation of eating noodles without sacrificing flavor. It helps that we both love zucchini and avocado. Thank you!


Trisha Lea June 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

What could I use as a substitute for oil? For me I cannot tolerate oil and would rather use a non raw ingredient like veggie broth if that would work or omit altogether and just add a different liquid. Thanks!!


dawn July 31, 2014 at 11:26 pm

My husband and I made this not to long ago! Again Susan it was a hit! I have not had to look any where else for raw amazing food. I love you site. Thank you so much.
I couldn’t resist the Basil, so I went out to the garden and grabbed some leaves for decoration :) But then after eating it with out the Basil I I love it! Then I spooned it into a Basil leaf and loved it that way too! So either way it is very yummy!


Susan August 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

So glad you like it, Dawn! Cheers!


Catx August 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Just had it for dinner…loved it.
I did not have any pine buts, so I mixed Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds into it. Fabulous! What a great idea to make this pesto with kale!!!
Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!!


Susan August 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

So glad you liked it, Catx. Your substitutions sound great! Cheers!


Micki French August 24, 2014 at 9:12 am

FYI: your recipe for avacado pesto is great but did you mean “PULSE” when you wrote “PLUS” when adding kale? Might want to clear that up. Recipes can be ruined by misspellings.


Susan August 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Hi, Micki, I am confused. It does say pulse…and yes, that is what I meant. Cheers!


sunny November 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm

can i use cocount oil. lol that all i have


Caroline April 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Just found this on pinterest! My bf really likes pesto and I hope this is a win with him too! Can a blender be used instead of a food processor? Unfortunately I dont have a food processor :[


Susan April 4, 2015 at 7:04 pm

You can try…just be careful to not over blend. You might want to finely chop the basil and add that by hand. Cheers!


Veronica Jones April 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Hi Susan, What would you recommend I replace the olive oil with … veggie broth? Thank you!


Susan April 28, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Hi, Veronica! I would just try leaving it out. Make sure your avocados are ripe! :-)


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