Recipe: Amy’s Fresh Paleo Pesto

Ahhh, pesto. So refreshing, it actually tastes like summer, doesn’t it? With our basil plants being just about all that’s left of our backyard box garden, pesto is the ideal mini weekend project. It’s quick to make, freezes well, and has an almost instant pay off. I eat it for the taste, but it’s also loaded with nutrients like Vitamin K, and basil qualifies as an anti-inflammatory food.

The plants closest to Juno (the fearless Rotterman) are Thai Basil. We didn’t use those for this recipe (saved instead for Thai Basil Chicken). We chopped the other plants down to about half, and made several batches. Each plant cost us about $2 at Trader Joe’s several months earlier, and easily yielded dozens of dollars worth of basil, each.


  • 3 cups Basil
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 T Lemon Zest
  • 1 cup (Blanched) Walnuts
  • 3/4 T Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 T Black Pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 T Red Pepper Flakes (optional, for spicy version)


  1. Place all ingredients into food processor, reserving 1/2 of salt and pepper
  2. Drizzle Olive Oil into machine while processing to desired consistency
  3. Add remainder of salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is based on a pesto recipe found on Mark Sisson’s Web site, Mark’s Daily Apple. The tweaks are:

  • More basil
  • Less cilantro
  • Walnuts instead of pistachios (pistachios work great, tho! and so do macadamias)
  • Much more lemon zest
  • And optional red pepper flakes to spice it up.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Topping for grilled meats, especially pork
  • Grill hamburger, top with over-medium fried egg and/or cream cheese, and then add a healthy dollop of pesto
  • Enjoy pesto as a dip with celery or cucumber slices.
  • Toss with leafy lettuce greens and add meat, avocado, bacon, etc.
  • As an appetizer, roll up in deli meats with the cheese of your choice (great with provolone)
  • Toss with strained spaghetti squash, add cubed or sliced grilled meat

Freeze any left-overs you have in single-serving portions. Enjoy!