42 Flavorful Paleo Pesto Recipes
Post by Lucha: World traveler, culinary student and Media Director at Paleo Flourish Magazine. Lucha will try most food but prefers Indian, Thai and Mexican food above all else. She is currently either cooking, eating, grocery shopping, or browsing recipes on Pinterest.
Following up on last week’s Paleo zucchini noodles post, I thought I’d share some great Paleo-friendly pesto recipes this week in case you love it on pasta as much as I do.
What I didn’t expect to discover was how many amazing varieties there are, and to how many dishes you can apply it! It’s not only good on pasta, but goes amazing on pizzas (Paleo pizza of course!), bruschetta, chicken dishes… really anything that could use some Italian tinge to it.
Whether your need a green dish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, something to get you in the mood for the start of spring, or you just want something yummy, check out the myriad options in this great list of our favorite Paleo pesto recipes!
Top 10 Paleo Pesto Recipes
Gina takes the traditional pesto method and spins it into a pure Paleo (and vegan!) version using nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor. She also explains how you can make general substitutions with other leafy greens (she uses spinach for a softer flavor) and other nuts or seeds like pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds! (Photo credit: Gina from So Let’s Hang Out.)
Here’s a pesto/guacamole fusion recipe that would be an out-of-this-world topping or spread on the recommended caramelized mushrooms or really anything other veggie or meat dish! Kale and spinach are the “green” bases of the dip that also includes the traditional garlic, lemon and pine nuts seen in regular pesto. A bit of avocado is mixed in to make a more creamy and buttery feel to the sauce. Divine! (Photo credit: Gina from Running to the Kitchen.)
This is actually two separate pesto recipes, one more traditional (but vegan) and the other is a red variety that looks positively packed with unique flavor and innovatively mixed in a grown beef and broccoli slaw preparation (supposedly tasting like “pizza in a bowl”). Pine nuts are not utilized in either of these pestos, but instead the bloggers from The Prime Pursuit try it with a blend of almonds and walnuts. (Photo credit: Leigh from The Prime Pursuit.)
If you tend to be overwhelmed by the raw garlic of regular pesto, this recipe is perfect for you! Cassy Joy roasts her garlic (and toasts her pine nuts) in step-by-step images that make it really easy to follow along. This might just make all the difference in your vegan pesto when you don’t have the cheese to balance out that intense garlic flavor. (Photo credit: Cassy Joy from Fed & Fit.)
This Paleo pesto is vegan AND oil-free! Megan, the always on-point “Detoxinista” uses zucchini, walnuts, and some other typical pesto components (lemon, garlic, and basil to name a few). She just blends everything together and the zucchini helps to make for a super smooth and creamy pesto sauce that will go great on a variety of dishes. Then she freezes them in an ice tray for long-term use – what a great idea! (Photo credit: Megan, the Detoxinista.)
With only four ingredients, this recipe is pretty simple and also puts an interesting twist on pesto by using arugula leaves for the greens and pecans instead of pine nuts. Being dairy-free, this one is great for the strictly Paleo crowd and also perfect if you’re tired of regular pesto and want to try something new and different with a more peppery and sweet green leaf! (Photo credit: Rach from Meatified.)
7. Basic Magically Pesto (Primal)
Although Dana’s pesto recipe is only suitable for those who can eat “Primal” style (i.e. with dairy), it has so many great variations and ideas for different nuts, herbs, and special ingredients so you can try many and decide which you like the most! She uses a mix of nuts and seeds, suggesting six to choose from, as well as nine different recommendations for herbs and green leaves to make your pesto taste amazing! I’m going to see what I’ve got on hand and experiment with some mixing and matching!
8. Sundried Tomato and Cashew Pesto (Primal)
This pesto sets itself apart with delicious sundried tomatoes and cashews instead of pine nuts. It does contain two types of cheese so beware if you are strictly Paleo as this one is only for the Primal-friendly crowd. That being said, the romano, parmesan and sundried tomatoes add an intense flavor combination that would be great in an Italian dish or really anything for which you want a yummy sauce topping!
Here’s a nut-free pesto variation that is based off of cilantro, one my favorite herbs! Some people say it has an astringent aspect that can overwhelm, but I think it’s absolutely perfect (especially for Mexican and Asian dishes – my favorite cuisines). This recipe reminds me more of a cilantro-infused oil. Either way, it’s a delicious topping if you are a fan like me. Also, it can be made in 10 minutes and lasts up to 3-4 weeks!
10. How to Make Pesto (Primal)
This recipe – although only suitable for the Primal crowd – is a great starting off point to educate yourself on what makes a pesto a pesto. This is the very traditional recipe (same as the one they taught me in culinary school) with good proportions and unbelievably simple instructions. If you can’t do dairy, hold the cheese and up the pine nut count.