When life hands you collard greens… make pesto.

If you’re like me you probably eat collard greens all the time and have loads of great recipes for them!  Ok – that’s not really true.  Collard greens aren’t exactly a Cheve household staple – but this week we got a batch of fresh, beautiful collard greens in our CSA basket and I was determined to use them (in a recipe Steve would eat).  🙂

greensCSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a relationship between farmer and consumer. I am lucky enough to support a local farmer, Laura Bledsoe and her incredible farm in Moapa Valley.  I love, love, love getting a basket of fresh, organic veggies once a week.  You would think it was Christmas with how excited I get. There are so many benefits to eating truly fresh produce but the biggest one is how amazing everything tastes. Before our CSA I would only eat broccoli if it were covered in cheese, now I eat it raw! It has really encouraged me to try new vegetables and get creative with things like swiss chard and collard greens.

Which brings us back to our regularly scheduled program…Collard Green Olive Pesto. It seems an unlikely combination of ingredients and to be honest I was really skeptical myself but I thought worst case scenario we could have take-out Thai in 20 minutes! But it all came together beautifully. The garlic and olives create the perfect balance to the collard greens. Finish it with a little cayenne pepper, olive oil and Parmesan cheese and you’ll have a perfect pesto to use on pasta, toasted bread, veggies or anything else you can think to do with it.



You certainly don’t need farm fresh greens to make this recipe. Collard greens are abundant at the market and they are inexpensive and healthy.  I served the pesto with toasted pine nuts and ravioli I bought from Fresh and Easy for a quick weeknight meal but the possibilities are endless.


This recipe is adapted from the March 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine.

Collard Green Olive Pesto
Makes about 1 cup
Total cook and prep time: 25 min

8 large collard greens leaves
7 medium brine-cured green olives pitted
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons water
dash of balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
scant sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely grated Parmasean Cheese

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems and center ribs from collard greens and discard. Stir collards into water in batches, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer collards with tongs to a colander to drain, gently pressing on greens to extract excess water. Coarsely chop collards.

Blend olives and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add collards, water, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream. Turn off motor, then add cheese and pulse to combine.



  1. […] Feel free to use whatever bread you have handy but if it’s available to you, focaccia really is wonderful. For perfect hard-boiled eggs, put the eggs in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat off and let the eggs sit for 10-12 minutes. Cool down with cold water before peeling. This is also a great way to use any leftover Collard Green Olive pesto. […]

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