Chard Leaves Pesto Sauce, a super simple pesto sauce recipe that uses swiss chard or rainbow chard leaves instead of basil. Ready in under 10 minutes and freezes well!

chard leaves pesto sauce in a bowl with a gold fork

Have leftover fresh chard leaves that you’re not sure what to do with? Put them in a pesto! Great as a topping for vegetables or mixed into salads and soups, this fresh chard pesto is a tasty way to save chard leaves from being thrown out.

👉 Ready to learn how to make pesto from fresh chard leaves? Let's do it!


🌿 Ingredients you'll need

  • Chard leaves: Fresh chard leaves are the base of this recipe, swiss chard or rainbow chard both work well. They also provide important vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, and folate.
  • Nuts or seeds: Pine nuts are used in traditional pesto, but you can make it with other varieties of nuts, like cashews or walnuts. You can even make it nut-free with pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds!
  • Cheese (or alternative): Parmesan or pecorino cheeses are traditional, but you can also use a vegan cheese-alternative like nutritional yeast.
  • Olive oil: Adds flavor to pesto and helps maintain its texture so that it doesn't become too thick.
  • Garlic, salt, and pepper. These are common pesto seasonings that you can adjust to your liking.
  • Optional Ingredients: Balance out the pesto with acid and brighten the flavor with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • Recommended tools: A food processor or blender, knife set, cutting board, and salad spinner
chard leaves, nuts, garlic, cheese, oil, salt, and pepper for pesto on a white table
Ingredients: chard, nuts or seeds, garlic, cheese, oil, salt, pepper

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Wash and prep chard leaves

Start with washing the chard by running it under water or submerging in a bowl of water. Remove any dirt from the leaves, then take it out of the bowl and lay flat on a plate or kitchen towel to dry. You can also use a salad spinner to dry the leaves.

Before making the pesto, remove any remaining hard stems from the chard.

rainbow chard leaves on a wood table
Wash, dry, and chop chard leaves

2️⃣ Step Two: Blend the chard, nuts or seeds, garlic, and oil

Toss the chard leaves in a food processor. Add nuts or seeds and garlic cloves, and pulse until finely chopped.

As the ingredients are being blended, slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to pulse until the chopped ingredients are well coated in oil but not completely smooth (you will want the pesto to be a little chunky)

Slowly drizzle in olive oil while pulsing the ingredients. Pulse until the chopped ingredients are well coated in oil, but still chunky.

fresh chard leaves and pesto ingredients in a food processor before blending
Add ingredients to a food processor

3️⃣ Step Three: Mix in cheese, spices, and lemon juice

Finish off the pesto by slowly adding cheese or nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Give it a taste and add more seasoning until the pesto is flavored to your liking!

chard leaves pesto sauce in a food processor
Blend and season pesto

💡 Ideas for serving

There are so many fun ways to enjoy pesto! Here are some ideas for how to serve chard pesto:

  • Use as a sauce or spread. Pasta, pizza, bowls, sandwiches – you can't go wrong with using pesto as your base spread or sauce.
  • Use as veggie dip. Pesto and veggies pair perfectly! You can mix chard pesto into hummus or use it on its own as a dip on a veggie platter.
  • Add to salad dressings. Pesto can easily be mixed into salad dressing. Simply combine it with more olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle on salad.
a bowl with chard pesto sauce on a wood table and fresh chard leaves

🧊 How to store

Here are some storage tips for chard pesto:

  1. Refrigerator storage: Keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  2. Freezer storage: Store in a sealed freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.

👉 Pro tip: To prevent browning, it is a good idea to drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the surface of pesto before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. You can add pesto to ice cube trays, freeze, and transfer to a freezer-safe storage bag. Having small amounts on hand are perfect for when you need a quick flavor enhancer!


♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips

Making chard pesto is a great way to reduce food waste! Here are some ways to make it even better for the planet:

Make it during chard season. The growing season for chard is usually fall, winter, and spring in most regions.

Freeze for later! Make a big batch of chard pesto when it’s in season, then freeze to enjoy for months to come.

a close up photo of pesto sauce with chard leaves

👉 More pesto sauce recipes

Can't get enough pesto? Look no further! Here are more unique pesto recipes:

Chard Leaves Pesto Sauce

Chard Leaves Pesto Sauce, a super simple pesto sauce recipe that uses swiss chard or rainbow chard leaves instead of basil. Ready in under 10 minutes and freezes well!
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups chard leaves, chopped
  • cup pine nuts, or other nuts or seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast if vegan
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • Optional: squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Wash and prep chard leaves: Start by washing chard leaves under running water or submerging them in a bowl of water and shaking them to remove any dirt. Use a salad spinner to dry leaves or lay them flat on a plate or kitchen towel to dry, then chop them into thin pieces.
  • Blend the chard, nuts, garlic, and oil: Toss the cleaned and dried chard leaves in a food processor. Next, add nuts or seeds and garlic cloves. Pulse until finely chopped, slowly drizzling in olive oil until the chopped ingredients are well coated in oil but still chunky.
  • Add seasonings to finish: Finish by adding in the cheese (or nutritional yeast), salt, and pepper. Give the pesto a taste and add more seasonings until it's flavored to your liking.

Notes

  • Nuts or seeds? Traditional pesto sauce uses pine nuts, but any nuts or seeds are perfect for pesto. We used pumpkin seeds in the photos of this recipe.
  • Tools needed: food processor or blender, knife set, cutting board, salad spinner
  • Prep ahead: Make this simple pesto up to 2-3 days before serving, or freeze until ready to use
  • Leftovers and storage: Leftover pesto should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days, and in the freezer for up to 2 months (possibly longer).
  • Nutrition notes: This recipe made as written (with parmesan cheese and pine nuts). Using other nuts, seeds, cheese, or nutritional yeast will change the nutrition information of this recipe.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 176kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 89mg, Potassium: 75mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 0.3g, Vitamin A: 585IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 1mg