Arugula Pesto (Paleo & Vegan)

There are a lot of healthy foods that are simply not normal – trust me, I’m the weird girl who eats them. Some foods like kale and beets seem to have risen in popularity to the point that they don’t necessarily cause teenage boys to gag when they seem them on the dinner table (though I am a little out of touch with reality so I could be wrong about this one), but the reality is this that many healthy foods have an undeniably healthy taste that some people just can’t get past.

Then there are the healthy foods that you might NEVER know are healthy without further investigation (think homemade sweet potato fries, a grassfed steak, or guacamole). These foods are easy to feed even the pickiest of eaters because they genuinely do not taste healthy – they just taste really freaking good.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe pesto falls in the second category because most people love it and have no idea that it’s healthy! The good news is that pesto made with ingredients you know and trust can be PACKED with nutrients and nobody has to know. You can serve it over chicken and veggies, mix it with cauliflower rice, or even mix it with some gluten-free pasta for a delicious and nutrient-dense meal that virtually anyone will eat and enjoy.

The other amazing thing about pesto is that it could not be easier to make. It essentially involves measuring a few easy-to-find ingredients and popping them in a food processor or blender for a few seconds – a process that should NEVER take more than five minutes start to finish. This makes pesto the ideal addition to any weeknight meal (or really any meal, period) that needs a little flavor kick.

So, let’s talk about this pesto. I threw together this pesto in approximately three minutes using ingredients I had on hand, but as soon as I took a bite I knew I was going to have to recreate it (and actually measure the ingredients) to share. The first rendition of the recipe used sprouted pumpkin seeds and it was delicious, but I have to say that macadamias were by FAR my favorite nut for this recipe (best taste and texture). Rest assured, though, that you can sub macadamias for walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts – whatever you have on hand.


Now, I should warn you that this pesto in particular is not your typical pesto. The addition of arugula definitely gives it a little extra somethin’-somethin’ that I absolutely adore but your husband or child may not. If you want a more mild, traditional pesto, simply sub the arugula in this recipe for extra basil.  But if you want all the benefits of this bitter green (boost your immune system, stimulate digestion, help to fight cancer, strengthen eyesight, read more here), I recommend you give it a try.

One final note: you can use a blender in place of a food processor but know that the texture may be a little creamier than that of typical pesto.

If you DO make this recipe, please let me know what you think! Bonus points if you post a picture and tag me 🙂 I love to see your creations!

Arugula Pesto (Paleo & Vegan)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A super-easy pesto recipe with a zesty kick! Healthy but you wouldn't even know it.


  • 1 c basil, tightly packed
  • 1 c arugula, loosely packed (sub for basil if you want a more mild taste)
  • 1/4 c macadamia nuts (sub walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts if you prefer)
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse/process for 10-15 seconds until ingredients are mixed together but not completely pulverized.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

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