Beet Pesto ♥

Beet Pesto, another healthy vegetable spread ♥ Gorgeous Color. Budget Friendly. Quick to Make. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Low Fat. Vegan. Gluten Free.
Today's untraditional pesto, it's made with beets and their wonderful earthiness! You might call this pesto, you might call it a beet spread or even a beet appetizer. But I'm willing to bet, you will definitely call it delicious!

Fresh & Seasonal, a Summer Classic. Gorgeous Color! Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Low Carb. Low Fat & No Added Oil. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. Rave Reviews.

What Is Pesto?

Well ........ traditionally, pesto is a summery sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan. We love traditional pesto in this house except that we like it without any cheese. That makes it vegan but more importantly, it really lets the basil shine. Do try Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto Without Cheese, it's amazing!

Untraditional Pestos

So is it any surprise that there's a history here of breaking with pesto norms? This cute little torte calls for a sun-dried tomato pesto and even the wonderful Olivada is a sort of olive pesto. These days, you can find olivada in the olive bars at grocery stores but I've been making my own for years, see Easy Italian Appetizers.

Beet Pesto: More Spread Than Sauce

In this recipe, the "pesto" is more of a spread than a sauce and it's all about the earthy beets. It couldn't be easier to make: just toss roasted beets into the food processor with traditional pesto ingredients.

I usually serve Beet Pesto on crostini (that's a fancy word for "toast") with goat cheese (a soft cheese like plain ol' Philadelphia cream cheese) where the earthy beets play off the tangy cheese. But I would also stir it into rice or mashed potatoes, use it as a pizza topping, and of course, stir it into hot pasta, maybe with some quick-cooked beet greens.

This is such a surprising spread, you can really taste the beets but the other ingredients somehow enhance the beet flavor without overpowering it. Even kids like it!

Beet Pesto Is Oil-Free

Traditional pesto includes a pile of olive oil and the inspiring recipe indeed called for a full 1/4 cup of good olive oil. But with pesto, I've learned that it pays to add the olive oil last, just enough to taste. And here, the beets are so moist, the garlic so pungent, the vinegar so tart – that no oil is needed. So yes, there's no oil in this pesto!

"... it was very well received." ~ Pille
"This was sooo yummy & soooo easy!" ~ Cindy

Best Vegetable Recipes 2007

Beet Pesto, another healthy vegetable spread ♥ Gorgeous Color. Budget Friendly. Quick to Make. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Low Fat. Vegan. Gluten Free.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1-1/2 cups

2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound cooked beets (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 cup (25g) fresh cilantro or fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup (45g) sunflower seeds (toasted) or walnuts (toasted) or almonds (toasted)
Additional salt to taste

In a food processor, process the garlic and salt together, scraping the sides if necessary, until the garlic is really small. Add the beets, herbs, vinegar and sunflower seeds/nuts and pulse until the Pesto reaches the desired consistency, just a few pulses really, think slightly chunky, chopped enough to spread easily but not smooth like peanut butter, say.

ROASTING BEETS There are several good ways to cooking beets listed in the Beet Recipes but for this recipe, I'd opt for My Favorite Way to Roast Beets.
AND DO ROAST SOME EXTRA BEETS If you like beets served in side dishes, beets in salads, beets in soup, even beets in desserts, again, check out the Beet Recipes! Once the beets are roasted, it takes just a few minutes to whip up one dish after another. Recipes that call for cooked beets are even specially marked with a little pot symbol like this .
GOLDEN BEETS My friend David made two batches of beet pesto for a St. Louis Hundred Mile Dinner, one with red beets, one with golden. The golden beets didn't turn out as pretty as we expected, the color was muddied by roasting the beets, also the walnuts. Either David or I will try this again with several changes, all to retain the beautiful golden color. Those changes are (1) boiling the beets so they don't turn brown (2) using a white balsamic vinegar (3) using chickpeas or sunflower seeds or pine nuts instead of walnuts and (4) maybe, depending on the color at this stage, a little turmeric or saffron to brighten the golden color.
PREPARED PESTO To save some time, David used a jar of pesto, a coriander (aka cilantro) pesto from the Indian aisle from the best international grocery in St. Louis, located in my hometown of Kirkwood, Global Foods.
ADD OIL? The inspiring recipe called for 1/4 cup oil, drizzled in during processing near the end. I don't find it necessary but mention it, just in case.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Mmm. I love the sound of it. (And I cooked beets last week, too. Obviously:)

  2. AnonymousJune 19, 2007

    I can't wait to try this recipe! If you can believe it, I ate beets for the first time since my childhood and loved them. Christine from roasted and diced them, added some pistachios and then drizzled them with a little pistachio oil.

  3. Beet pesto sounds wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I've never thought of making a pesto with anything other than herbs, but I think I may convert my thinking. This is a great idea and perfect for summer.

  5. What a wonderful idea! I bet this was delicious! Looking forward to experimenting with this.

  6. I served this (with tiniest of adaptations) tonight at for a bunch of girlfriends, and it was very well received. Great way to use up all those unever pieces of beetroot after making my beetroot & blue cheese tartlets :)

  7. Wow what a great and unique idea! I love beets and I love pesto so I will definitely give this a try.

  8. This was sooo yummy & soooo easy! Does anybody know if you could can this?


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna