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Paleo Pesto (AKA, The BEST Dairy Free Pesto Recipe!)

Sep 1, 2016 | Recipes | 0 comments

Paleo Pesto Recipe

My Dairy Free Pesto recipe gets so much flavor from lemons, cilantro and garlic that you'll never miss the cheese! Vegan & Paleo Pesto.

Ah, cilantro. Probably one of the most love it or hate it herbs. For those of you that love it, you will definitely fall in love with my dairy free Cilantro Pesto recipe. For those of you that fall on the hate it side, I urge you to give this recipe a try. The garlic, walnuts and olive oil help temper the pungent cilantro taste. Not to mention that by adding this leafy green into your diet, you are getting a strong Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium boost that is good for your heart health and blood sugar regulation.

My dairy free Cilantro Pesto recipe can easily be nut-free as well by omitting the walnuts. I promise it's still tasty! Use the pesto to crust fish (pictured above), stir into spaghetti squash with bison and mushrooms, dip veggies into for a snack, or top a fried egg for breakfast. It's so versatile!

And don't worry if you don't like cilantro. Basil is just as good here!

Quick tip: freeze any left over cilantro pesto to use at a later date.


Salmon Filet Pesto
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Dairy Free Cilantro Pesto


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro (or sub basil)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 lemons


  • Place the following in a blender and blend until smooth:
    - olive oil
    - 3 large handfuls cilantro (can use stems if not too thick)
    - walnuts
    - garlic
    - juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • Season with S&P to taste.

What is the nutrition like in this Paleo pesto recipe?

My paleo pesto is not only delicious, it's full of vitamins and nutrients and adds a healthy boost to your food. Each of the five ingredients provides substantial nutrition, as outlined below.

Olive Oil (Monounsaturated Fats – Oleic Acid, Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Vitamin K)

Due to the type of fat it contains, oleic acid, olive oil may reduce inflammation. It also may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, stroke and heart disease. Make sure to get high quality extra virgin olive oil, as it retains more antioxidants and nutrients.


Did you know cilantro is used medicinally to treat several conditions? Cilantro comes from the coriander plant which can help lower blood sugar, fight inflammation and reduce blood pressure. It also potentially improves memory and eases anxiety!

Walnuts (Vitamin E, Omega-3s, Antioxidants)

Many consider walnuts to be the healthiest nut, in part due to their high antioxidant content. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, as well as supporting healthy brain function and healthy gut bacteria. They are a true super food!

Garlic (Beneficial Sulfur Compounds, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium)

Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer. Eating garlic may also help prevent colds and other minor illnesses. Scientists believe these substantial health benefits may stem primarily from garlic's sulfur compounds such as allicin, diallyl disulfide and sallyl cysteine.

Lemons (Vitamin C)

Just one lemon provides 51% of the daily recommended vitamin C. This is important not only to fight colds, but for long term health as studies show consuming produce with vitamin C helps prevent heart disease and stroke. Consuming lemons can also help protect against anemia and kidney stones.

Can I meal prep this dairy free pesto recipe?

Yes! Pesto is a perfect thing to include in your weekly meal prep. Our Prep Dish meal plans always include detailed prep day instructions. Prep day includes things like washing and chopping produce and making any salad dressings, sauces and marinades…like pesto!

One of my favorite meal prep tips is to make a double batch of items like pesto and store half in the freezer. That way, on an extra busy week, you can simply thaw the pesto overnight and then use it to liven up whatever protein you have on-hand.

Ways to Use Pesto

As pictured above, you can use pesto on salmon or any fish, really. It's delicious that way! There are SO many other ways to use pesto though. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Marinate chicken in pesto before roasting.
  • Use pesto to top baked potatoes. (Or, toss roasted potatoes with pesto.)
  • Dip your favorite veggies, either roasted or raw, in pesto.
  • Spread pesto on pork tenderloin before roasting.
  • Stir into marinara and enjoy on zoodles, spaghetti squash or your favorite pasta.
  • Stir it into quinoa, like in this stuffed acorn squash
  • Enjoy on my grilled eggplant stacks.
  • Top vegetable soup or tomato soup with a dollop of pesto.
  • Add pesto to the marinara layer of your favorite lasagna.
  • Use pesto in place of spicy chili sauce in these poached eggs over polenta or use it to top eggs in bell pepper rings.
  • Spread pesto on a wrap or sandwich.

You can see why I recommend stashing some extra pesto in your freezer! It comes in handy.

More Healthy Marinades and Sauces

If you want to liven up your cooking, adding a few healthy marinades and sauces to your repertoire is one of the best things you can do. Store-bought sauces are not only loaded with strange ingredients, they also simply don't taste nearly as good as homemade sauces. The below sauces are quite versatile so get creative with how you use them and enjoy the results!

Quick Stir Fry Sauce

Easy Paleo Stir Fry Sauce

This paleo stir fry sauce is one of our most popular recipes! It has just six ingredients, all paleo-approved and you can use it on any stir fry combination you love. With a homemade sauce, even a very simple stir fry can be delicious!

Grilled Chicken w/ Sweet & Spicy Chili Sauce

Spicy Chili Sauce

Sweet and spicy, this sauce is great on chicken, eggs, or drizzled over roasted vegetables. If you need to make the sauce paleo, simply substitute the tamari with coconut aminos.

Almond Butter Dipping Sauce

Almond Butter Dipping Sauce

While this buddha bowl is not paleo-compliant, the almond butter dipping sauce is! And the sauce is everything. Drizzle it over a salad, cauliflower rice bowl or zoodles with chicken. The sauce is quite versatile!

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

For another versatile herb-based sauce, you can't go wrong with chimichurri. Use it as a salad dressing, to liven up a burger or as a dip for veggies. You can't go wrong! It also makes an excellent marinade for shrimp, chicken or steak. Just like my paleo pesto, chimichurri freezes quite well so make a big batch.

Beginner Menu Guide


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Allison Schaaf Chef, Prep Dish

Prep Dish is a gluten-free, paleo, and keto meal planning website. Celebrity personal chef & dietitian Allison Schaaf thoughtfully crafts each plan using her own well-tested recipes. Each meal plan allows you, the home cook, to spend only 2-3 hours preparing a week’s worth of crave-worthy, healthy meals using seasonal, whole foods (nothing processed!). We aim to save you time while keeping your family’s taste buds happy.

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