Think of this spicy parsley pesto as a simplified version of chimichurri with fresh jalapeños added. Versatile and FULL of flavor, use parsley pesto as a sauce, dressing, dip, and spread! Vegan and gluten-free with nut- and oil-free options.
If you haven't yet branched out from traditional basil pesto, I'm here to convince you how much you NEED this parsley pesto in your life! Last year I fell in love with parsley-dill pesto. And a few months ago we started hitting the zhoug sauce hard in our house (it's basically "spicy cilantro pesto" and is heaven on a spoon).
In a way, this spicy parsley pesto is a combination of those two recipes. As spring and summer's bounty of fresh herbs and jalapeños start rolling in, you'll be ready to whip up this amazing sauce anytime.
Why You'll Love Parsley Pesto
- It's salty, garlicky, tangy, and rich. And I know this might sound odd, but hear me out.... it actually reminds me of cheese! Yes, really. It delivers a similar punch of fat/salt/acid and is deeply satisfying in a cheesy sort of way. So if you're newly vegan and missing that finishing garnish of cheese on your plate, this pesto can help!
- Parsley packs serious nutrition, and blending it up into pesto is an easy and delicious way to consume it.
- Easily adjust the spice level by including or removing the jalapeño seeds.
- Parsley has a longer shelf life than other herbs. So if you grab a bunch or two at the store or farmer's market, it's okay if you don't get around to making pesto for a couple of days.
How to Make Spicy Parsley Pesto
This is a summary. Be sure to scroll down to the full recipe.
You'll need a food processor and just 7 ingredients:
- 1 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) Parsley (sub curly parsley, if desired)
- 1 lemon
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
- walnuts (use pumpkin seeds for a nut-free option)
- olive oil (omit for oil-free diets)
- sea salt
Simply blend everything together, taste, adjust seasonings, and enjoy. Or refrigerate the pesto for a few hours first to allow the flavors to mingle.
- oil-free - simply omit the olive oil, and use a splash or two of water to reach the desired consistency. You can also adjust the amount of walnuts/seeds to suit your taste.
- less spicy - use just one jalapeno, and remove all of the seeds.
- spicier, jalapeño-forward - use two peppers. Remove the seeds from one jalapeno for a moderate level of heat.
- nut-free - replace the walnuts a handful of pumpkin seeds or just increase the olive oil.
I hope you enjoy this Parsley Pesto. Be sure to drop a comment and a star rating below if you give it a try, and let us know what foods you're pairing it with!
If you’re on instagram tag a photo of your dish with @myquietkitchen. I always love to see what you’re making!
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Spicy Parsley Pesto
- 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley (about 1.5 cups packed), ends trimmed, roughly chopped Include most of the stems.
- 1 to 2 large jalapenos I used 2, with most of the seeds removed.
- ½ cup raw walnut halves Sub ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds for nut-free.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- scant ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- up to ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Omit for oil-free and add 2 to 3 Tbsp water for consistency.
- Prepare the jalapenos: this is where you decide the level of spiciness. I like to remove most of the seeds from both jalapenos for a mild pesto. You can also reserve some of the seeds, and add them after blending if you decide you want it spicier.
- Combine jalapenos, garlic, and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until broken down into a sticky crumb texture. Add parsley, lemon juice, and salt, and process until fully incorporated.
- With the food processor running, drizzle in 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (or water for oil-free). Taste and adjust salt/spice as desired. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.