I propose that all grocery stores clear a place on the shelf right beside the Frank’s Hot Sauce for this spicy avocado pesto: you are going to want this Avocado Pesto on everything.
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Have you ever had one of those moments when you try a new food for the first time and become instantly hooked?
That’s how I felt the first time I tried an avocado pesto.
Skeptical of the lack of basil and nuts (as used in my homemade Basil Pesto or this fabulous classic creamy pesto recipe from The Well Plated Cookbook), after one bite of this nontraditional pesto recipe, I knew this was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.
Spread on toast, mixed with scrambled eggs, drizzled over Mexican-inspired dishes like these 10 Minute Black Bean Tostadas, or (my favorite) tossed with whole wheat noodles, avocado pesto is a bright, healthy dinner that can be on the table in fewer than 30 minutes (like this Garlic Pasta).
5 Star Review
“My husband made the avocado pesto this evening. It is delicious!! I could have eaten the entire bowl.”— Maureen —
How to Make Avocado Pesto
Luxuriously creamy, lightly spiced like traditional Pesto Pasta, but packed with superfoods avocado and arugula, this velvety green wonder sauce comes together in minutes and is lovely on everything from sandwiches (try it on this Avocado Egg Salad sandwich) to toast to pasta.
- Avocado. Packed with healthy fats along with magnesium, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate (if you love avocado, try my Avocado Grilled Cheese).
- Arugula. For a peppery twist that also adds fiber, calcium, and iron.
- Cilantro. My herb swap for basil that compliments the flavors of the avocado, lime, and spicy jalapeno.
- Lime. I reached for a squeeze of fresh lime juice instead of traditional lemon juice to give this pesto a south-of-the-border flair. (I’ll save the lemons for this Pasta al Limone.)
- Jalapeno. For a spicy kick. To control the spice level of the sauce, leave as much of the jalapenos’ seeds and membranes as you dare. (I love using this jalapeno-infused pesto to add some spiciness to my favorite Pesto Potato Salad.)
- Garlic. For some zip and zing.
- Parmesan. Keeps the essence of classic Creamy Basil Pesto alive.
- Pasta. If serving over pasta, try this avocado pesto with your favorite whole wheat pasta for an added boost of nutrition.
- Cherry Tomatoes. My favorite mix-in when preparing this pesto with pasta. Sauteed red peppers or mushrooms would also be tasty.
- Cook the pasta, drain (don’t forget to reserve a cup of pasta water), and set aside.
- Place the avocado, arugula, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper into a food processor.
- Puree until smooth, add the Parmesan cheese, then puree again until incorporated.
- Add the avocado pesto to the cooked pasta.
- Toss to coat, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin if necessary.
- Toss in the cherry tomatoes and serve with additional Parmesan. ENJOY!
- Lightly Spicy Avocado Pesto Pasta. If you are a bit spice shy, you can always cut back on the jalapeno. You might also enjoy this not-at-all spicy Creamy Avocado Pasta, which uses lots of fresh herbs and Greek yogurt.
- Extra Spicy Avocado Pesto Pasta. If you’re a huge spice fan, you can dial it up a notch by adding even more jalapeno.
My go-to way to use avocado pesto is in pasta, but if you find new ways to use this green goodness, I’d love to hear all about them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! While it may be high in calories, they primarily come from the healthy fats found in avocado. Pack with greens and heart-healthy garlic, avocado pesto is the smarter choice when compared to something heavier, like Alfredo.
A perfectly ripe avocado will have deep, dark skin and gives slightly when pressed gently with your fingers (but never mushy).
Unfortunately, avocado pesto will, eventually, turn brown. The lime juice does help extend the shelf life, but with a day or two, it will change color. Know that even once it turns brown, it is safe to eat (within 5 days) it just does not look as appealing. If you don’t intend to eat right away, I recommend freezing the avocado pesto
- 14 ounces rotini pasta or any kind of pasta you like
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- 2 cups arugula loosely packed
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper cut into quarters (remove seeds and membrane for a mild pesto)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving (omit if vegan or to make dairy free)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, then toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Place in a large serving bowl.
- Scoop the avocado into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the arugula, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Puree until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree again until incorporated. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Pour the avocado pesto over the pasta, then toss gently to combine. If the pasta seems too thick and sticky, add a bit of the reserved pasta water.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with additional Parmesan as desired.
- TO STORE: Leftover pesto will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It may brown, but will still taste fresh and delicious.
- TO FREEZE: If you don’t intend to use all the pesto at once, avocado pesto freezes like a dream since it prevents it from browning. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before adding to freshly cooked pasta.
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