Pesto might be one of my favorite sauces. It feels so fancy, and yet, it's so easy to make! But did you know you can make pesto out of almost any combination of greens and nuts? In fact, you could even use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead of nuts if you prefer. It doesn't have to be "just" basil and pine nuts anymore. In this Arugula Pistachio Pesto, I even dialed down the oil to make it a little lighter.
This simple, low sodium pesto is great to make when you don't want to spend huge sums of money on fresh basil or pine nuts. Arugula is super affordable, and makes for a delicious pesto!
While it was made for delicious roasted parsnips, this pistachio pesto would also be perfect on whole wheat pasta, on baked salmon or white fish, or even as a salad dressing drizzled on a simple tossed salad.
Is this pesto really heart healthy?
Yes! Traditional pesto sauce is usually high in sodium, total fat, and saturated fat - mostly because of the amount of Parmesan cheese used in it. So I made some substitutions. One big one, actually.
I'm using miso paste instead of Parmesan cheese in this arugula pesto. Cheese is high in sodium and saturated fat; both of which increase cardiovascular risk. Miso has no saturated fat, and although it is a source of sodium, it seems the soy protein in it counteracts the sodium. This protects the heart, and might even lower blood pressure. Plus, it's got so much flavor, we don't have to use much, allowing for the overall sodium content to be much lower. You won't miss the cheese at all. Promise!
I'm also using pistachios in this recipe. Mainly, this is because pine nuts tend to be quite expensive! But pistachios are also a heart health powerhouse! Nuts in general are great for heart health, but pistachios in particular may lower cardiovascular disease risk. It is thought they can do this by lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Specifically, it seems pistachios might play a role in keeping blood vessels relaxed, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
We made a few substitutions from traditional pesto to keep this version lower sodium and lighter, while still maintaining a delicious product.
- Olive oil
- Miso paste
See recipe card for quantities.
You'll need a food processor or a blender. Traditionally, pesto is made by chopping all the ingredients together by hand until a sauce is achieved. I like the food processor method better!
Add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor.
Process on high, until you achieve the consistency you like, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
Hint: if your sauce seems to thick, you can add water, one tablespoon at at time, while processing.
Arugula pistachio pesto is dairy free, gluten free, vegan, and DELICIOUS! But here are some great subs if you need them!
- Nut free - instead of pistachios, use an equal amount of either sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Soy free - add 2-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, plus ¼ teaspoon salt, instead of miso paste
Pesto sauce is so customizable it's almost ridiculous. There are thousands of variations, but here are some of my favorite:
- Greens - use half basil and half arugula for a more traditional, yet affordable taste
- Nuts - use cashews for a creamy pesto
- Spicy - add a few slices of fresh jalapeno or a teaspoon of more crushed red pepper flakes
Or try this recipe for Pesto Scalloped Potatoes!
You'll need some basic equipment for this pistachio pesto:
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Store the pesto sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
It can also be frozen for up to 6 months.
This recipe is really great for using up greens that are still edible, but a little past their prime. You know those ones you don't really want to put in a salad, but feel bad tossing in the trash? Make pesto!
Your sauce can end up thick just from variation in ingredients. Just add a tablespoon of water or olive oil at a time, while the food processor is running, until you reach a consistency you like.
I use white miso paste for purely aesthetic reasons. If you have another type of miso paste, it's fine to use it instead. Just know it may affect the color of your pesto.
Looking for other low sodium condiment recipes? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with arugula pistachio pesto:
Arugula Pistachio Pesto
- 4 oz fresh Arugula
- ¼ cup salt free Pistachios (raw or toasted are both fine)
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoon White Miso paste
- 2 Garlic cloves
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, and process until the desired level of smoothness is reached.
- If the pesto seems too dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach a sauce-like consistency.
Safety is our top priority in the kitchen! Always keep these tips in mind.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands before touching food, and after touching raw meat, your hair, face, pets, etc.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the weather is hot)