Dips, Sauces and Spreads, Gluten-free

No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

Loreto August 16, 2017

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No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto, a great addition to all the pesto recipes, utilizing those wonderfully tender beet green leaves, a bunch of basil leaves, walnuts, and a mix of Parmigiano and Pecorino. Everything blended with a good e.v.o. oil to give you a smooth and delectable pesto sauce.

Song of the day: “Roof Garden” by Al Jarreau.

No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto is a great sauce for those who have allergies or intolerances to garlic, or simply don’t like it. The beet green marries very well with the basil and walnuts, and the e.v.o. oil provides that wonderful blanket for the ingredients to play on.


No-Garlic! I know lots are saying you’re kidding right?, I love garlic, especially in a pesto. It is not that we are shunning that great flavor boosting ingredient. We just wanted to do something for those who cannot eat garlic because of health or taste issues. Nicoletta of late has some trouble with raw garlic, it gives her bad heartburn and indigestion. Plus we were also wanting to highlight the flavor of the beet leaf which Nicoletta and I really love. Actually truthfully speaking the idea of a beet leaf pesto was purely her inspiration during one of our market hauls. We were at Old Strathcona Farmers Market, before leaving for our Italian vacation, purchasing some wonderfully green and luscious baby beet leaves from Sparrow’s Nest Organics, one of the vendors we usually buy from. We were first thinking of just doing our usual sauteed greens for dinner one night, but Nicoletta had a lightbulb moment and here we are, sharing our recipe with you.

Without further ado here is No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto!

No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

When we think of beets we always are reminded of those super staining red oh so rustic and earthy vegetable that our parents tried to feed us. As time went on we started to respect this vegetable, well some of us, it is still an acquired taste. Time keeps going and organic produce has made its statement and there are many buyers. But who would have thought that the leaves of this root vegetable would be really good also. Only the ones who dare to go where no person has gone before, lol.

Well, I have to say Nicoletta and I are lovers of greens. In Italy, sauteed greens are a staple on the lunch or dinner table, right alongside bread which is like gold to Italians. With that being, said we use spinach, cicoria, kale, swiss chard, rapini, broccolini, collard greens, and to our list of these favorites beet greens. I would have to say the first time eating these would have to be in my mom’s beet green rolls, which I just love especially at Thanksgiving or Christmas. But I have come to really respect and enjoy the flavor of the greens sauteed. The thought of using them in a pesto never entered my mind. Thank God we are a team and I can savour the fruit of Nicoletta’s idea.

Beet greens, I bet you never knew how good they are for you. This vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and phytonutrients. The vitamins include folates, vitamin A, C, K, Niacin, riboflavin, and so much more. In the mineral department, we have calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, selenium and zinc. I have only skimmed the surface of the nutritional profile of this Beet Green. I  guess you can say that this could be a super food, no let’s call a spade a spade, and declare it a super food. In saying this we have used it in its most natural state keeping it high in nutrients, and robust in flavor.

No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

A food processor comes in real handy when making pesto. Old school demands lots of time and patience and a good mortar and pestle, which has its place some time, as I like to see just how well it works and how it affects the flavor. For now and with our busy schedule, modern technology will prevail and in goes beet greens, basil, salt and yes walnuts. Usually, in general, the most used Genovese pesto has pine nuts, but as we had said in our four part pesto series, different regions use different ingredients more prevalent in their areas. The walnuts provide a great flavor to the mix with its unique earthy flavor plus giving us a bit of textural crunch.

One thing I want to point out is not to blend consistently. Pulse the processor and work the ingredients slowly allowing them to come together, and work together to achieve a good texture and consistency. If you just turn the processor on and let it blend till the ingredients become liquid, most likely you cooked the ingredients a bit and have lost some of the texture and flavor. I guess that is why some do it with a mortar and pestle, no chance of that happening and also ultimate control of the outcome.

No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

As the ingredients start to come together, this is the stage for the entrance of the e.v.o. oil (extra virgin olive oil). One thing I want to add here is a get a good quality olive oil. If you can find the D.O.P. oils and make sure it says extra virgin and cold pressed. That means that the oil is the first to be pressed out of the olive, and also they do not use heat to extract the oil, which preserves that rich aromatic grassy taste that is so so good with all the flavor profiles of this No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto.

No-garlic Beet Green Pest

This pesto has such a wonderful color and texture. The aroma is pure freshness on a spoon. The robust flavor of the beet green comes through very quickly. The basil offers a diversity toning the earthiness of the beet green superbly, and the walnuts are a pleasant surprise with their unmistakable nuttiness and taste. The olive oil is the grounding element offering its richness and beautiful color enhancer to the mix. The flavor of the olive oil pulling the earthiness of beet green and the nutty muskiness of the walnuts creating a wonderful pesto sauce that can be used in so many ways making it indispensable. We used it for a fish and shrimp dish as a topper. It can be used with pasta such as spaghetti, gnocchi, fusilli, etc. You can be creative and creative as your heart desires to, I am sure what you come up with will surely be great. If you love pesto sauce and are looking for a fresh change try our No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto!


Song of the day: “Roof Garden” by Al Jarreau.

No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

No-Garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup of pesto sauce 1x


This pesto can also be frozen. Just place it in an air tight freezer container and place in the freezer. I recommend using it within the month as time and coldness do take away the flavor a bit.
I would also suggest place the container in a sealable freezer bag. This will ensure freshness.
When stored in the fridge, just make sure to always top with olive oil. It will last about a week to 10 days in the fridge.


  • 4 cups beet greens, washed, spun with stems removed
  • 1/4 cup e.v.o. oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 Tbsp Pecorino Romano, grated
  • a handful of basil, washed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients minus the olive oil.
  2. Begin to blend pulsing, while slowly adding in the olive oil until the mixture is fully blended and the olive oil is fully added, and the desire consistency and texture is achieved. Add more olive oil if needed.
  3. Place in a jar and top with oilve oil and place in fridge.
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No-garlic Beet Green Walnut Pesto

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  • Avatar
    Reply Nicole August 25, 2017 at 10:59 am

    You guys are the pesto masters, always the best ideas! I’m very curious to try a garlic-less pesto. It’s definitely an ingredient I rely on too often in cooking, and I know a lot of people unfortunately have issues digesting it. Awesome post, as always!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 25, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you Nicole, we have been experimenting a lot as of late with pesto combinations, and so far no one I didn’t like. I would have to say that not having the garlic did not lessen the flavor of this pesto and we had it with a surf and surf dish we created and it fit the bill perfectly!
      Have a great sunny weekend.

  • Avatar
    Reply Ayngelina (@Ayngelina) August 28, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Love that you’re so creative with your pesto. I always run out of garlic so this is a great reminder to just go ahead and make it anyway.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you Ayngelina for your comment. I know alot of people feel the same way, if they don’t have the garlic, how am I going to make this recipe. This recipe is a typical example that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and do it anyway. The fact is that it tasted great and for those who have allergies to garlic can enjoy a pesto too.
      Have a great week!

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