Think of this vegan parsley pesto as a simplified version of chimichurri with fresh jalapeños added. It's so fresh, versatile, and FULL of flavor. Use parsley pesto as a sauce for veggies and pasta, a spread for sandwiches and burgers, and as a salad dressing. It's an easy way to use up flat leaf or curly parsley! Vegan and gluten-free with nut-free and oil-free options.
If you haven't yet branched out from traditional basil pesto with fresh basil and pine nuts, I'm here to convince you how much you NEED this parsley pesto in your life!
I have fallen fast in love with parsley-dill pesto as well as hitting the zhoug sauce hard (it's basically "spicy cilantro pesto" and is heaven on a spoon).
These are faves in our house if you want to check them out! In a way, this spicy pesto combines those two recipes.
Why You'll Love It
- This parsley pesto is salty, garlicky, tangy, and rich. And I know this might sound odd, but 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 just might 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.
- Who knew you could make pesto without nuts?! Nut-free pestos are perfect for those that love pesto but have nut allergies.
How to Make Vegan 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
- raw walnuts - use pumpkin seeds for a nut-free option
- olive oil - omit for oil-free diets
- sea salt
Simply blend everything together in the food processor, taste, adjust seasonings, and enjoy. Or refrigerate the pesto for a few hours first to allow the flavors to mingle.
Are you a free spirit when it comes to recipes? If you are looking to change things up a bit here are some of my favorite variations :
- 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 number 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 with a handful of pumpkin seeds or just increase the olive oil.
Similar to other varieties of fresh pesto, you want to protect it from air as much as possible. Traditionally a layer of olive oil poured over top is an easy way to do this.
If you avoid oil, press a piece of plastic wrap down so that it's touching the surface of the pesto.
You might also like:
- Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
- Oil-Free Zhoug Sauce
- Parsley-Dill Pesto
- Vegan Basil Pesto
- Pasta Salad with Parsley-Dill Pesto
- Creamy Harissa Dressing
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!
Spicy Vegan 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.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
Hi Lori! I know this will change the entire recipe, but I have an abundance of cilantro and no parsley. Cilantro pesto should be good,right?
Absolutely! It will be more like this zhoug sauce, which is one of our favorites. https://myquietkitchen.com/oil-free-zhoug-sauce/
Hello! I received a shipment of produce from Misfits Market that contained curly parsley and jalapenos. I was searching for a recipe using parsley, then thought "Maybe pesto???", found a few recipes, stumbled onto yours, saw that it contained jalapenos as well and was intrigued. So I made a batch yesterday, using all the parsley and three of the four jalapenos (they weren't that big) (I didn't realize I have four, or I would have used all of them!), and tossed it with a bit of pasta and leftover frozen vegetables "just to see" -- and WOW. I love it! It smells delicious, tastes fantastic, and I can't wait to use more of it. I followed the recipe to a T, using 3 tablespoons of olive oil, but added a bit of black pepper and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. I will definitely make this again, pandemic or not. Thank you!
Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Jodi. I'm so glad you enjoyed the spicy pesto. Your pasta dish sounds fantastic!