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Pistachio Beet Green Pesto

When life gives you food sensitivities, make delicious food. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Well, a few months ago when I got tested for food sensitivities and made a complete dietary overhaul, I put my culinary skills to the test.
Along the way, I made some pretty delicious recipes, like Asian Beet Slaw, Zucchini Pasta, and Chocolate Coconut Mousse.
But I never got the chance to share this one with you. Seeing all the fresh beets during my latest trip to the farmers’ market reminded me that this recipe can’t wait.

If you like the rich flavor of pistachios, this might become a new favorite in your household.
Pistachio beet green pesto may have been born out of necessity (I really wanted pesto that day and knew I had to make my own with non-traditional ingredients), but it’s made it into regular rotation. The original version didn’t include garlic or cheese, but they definitely improve the overall flavor.

Pistachio Beet Green Pesto

prep time 10 minutes
total time 15 minutes

  • 1 bunch beet greens, blanched for 10 seconds (~1 cup when cooked + drained)
  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup pistachios, without the shells
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional; I prefer one made from raw milk)
  • zest of 1 organic lemon
  • juice of ½ organic lemon


  1. Wash beet greens and remove stems.
  2. Boil a small pot of water. Blanch greens for 10 seconds, remove from water and drain in a colander.
  3. If using garlic, whiz the clove in the food processor before adding other ingredients until minced.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a chunky paste forms. (If you like a rustic pesto, save ¼ cup of pistachios to add near the end.)


Serving ideas for pesto:

  • Sauce for zucchini noodles
  • Topping for meat, fish, or poultry
  • Addition to a cheese or antipasti platter
  • Dip for vegetables (you can mix some with sour cream for a creamy dip)
  • Spread on lettuce wraps or sandwiches

Why did I cook the greens?

Beet greens are very high in a compound called oxalic acid, which strongly binds to calcium and other minerals. Oxalic acid not only prevents your body from absorbing minerals, but when consumed in a large enough quantity, can lead to kidney stones. Rhubarb, spinach, and sorrel are also high in oxalic acid. That’s why your grandma insisted you NOT eat raw rhubarb. Luckily a good portion of oxalic acid is leached out with a quick blanch. (By good portion, I mean at least 55% according to the study I dug up from the Asian Journal of Food and Agro-Industry. Yes, I read stuff like that.)
Pistachio beet green pesto is a great way to fit more greens into your diet and not just because it tastes good. By combining greens with fat, you absorb the nutrients better. Truly a win-win. I hope you’ll give this a whirl!
In the comments below, tell me:

  • Have you ever made pesto?
  • What are you favorite ways to use it?

Until next week,
PS – You can read more about my food sensitivity journey if you’re interested. It started by saying farewell to one of my dear food friends, Mr. almond (or shall I say ex-friend).

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. This recipe looks deelish – I’m a sucker for pesto! I remember doing a food allergy test years ago, and I was *supposedly* allergic to almond (among other things). Ultimately, I failed continuing on with the elimination diet (to see what I was REALLY allergic to)…it was very challenging for me. I’ve just decided everything in moderation will do just fine for my lifestyle (well, at least, for now). ; -)

    • Preaching to the choir, Desiree! Pesto makes everything better.

      Oh no, almonds for you too? Yeah, food sensitivities are tricky, and elimination diets can be tough to follow. That’s why I work very closely with my clients to give them the guidance and support to do it right with as little restriction as possible. 🙂

  2. This looks so yummy and is a super clean recipe. I will be sharing with my peeps!

    • Enjoy Krystal! This one’s a great addition to the recipe box.

  3. WOW! What a great, unique version of pesto! I never thought of this combination before! I’m going to have to try it. Sounds delicious and a great way to use Beet Greens (instead of throwing them away…). Thanks for sharing!

    • Yep Sarah, no need to throw out those greens! Other than pesto, they can be sauteed like kale or added to soups.

      And if you plan ahead, you can keep growing more beet greens at home from the beet tops. I show how in this post:

  4. Lily, Such a creative twist on pesto. Yep, you can make a pesto out of anything! And this looks like a great one!

    • Chef Silvia, thanks!

  5. Um, can I say, absolutely delicious?!!!!!
    This is one of the best pesto recipe ideas I have seen….I would never have thought of pistachios…but pesto and pistachios are two of my favorites! Why not put them together?!

    Love it…keep it comin’ : )

    • Sounds like I wrote this recipe just for you, Court! Enjoy!

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