Pepita-Parsley Pesto

As I may have mentioned before, I’ve never done a “detox” in the traditional sense of the word. That’s not to say, however, that I can’t go a little crazy when it comes to eating healthy. My crazy-healthy streaks– those where I really go all-out with the greens, juicing, low-carbing, etc. — are the closest to detox I get. That is, if you can call it “detox” when coffee is involved (probably not, right?) Last I checked, copious amounts of caffeine and cleanses didn’t mix.

My slight — ahem, massive — coffee addiction might explain why I tend to be overzealous in other areas of my diet. Perhaps I’m trying to compensate? Whatever the reason, I like to play games like “see how many different colored vegetables I can fit into one meal.” Or, “how many ‘cleansing’ ingredients can I fit into one dish?” Of course, such moments are interspersed with spurts of baking zeal and uninhibited tasting. Then there are those days where I’m tired, lazy, busy, out of groceries, or eating out a lot. Those days? My plates are less-than-colorful; my meals skewed toward the carb-loaded and vegetable-deprived.

As contradictory and schizophrenic as this may all sound, I reason that no one can be 100% perfect all the time. Which is why, even on my worst days, I’m still getting some fruits and vegetables, and why, even on my best, I don’t strive for absolute perfection (what is “perfection” in a diet, anyways?) Thus, my tendency to avoid cleanses, which seem to require super-human strength, willpower, and a complete abandonment of reality (I’m sorry, but I’m not one of those people who can carry on a normal work day subsisting on solely juice. If you are, more power to you!!).

So, after a long-winded explanation, you understand why this green glob — and the bed of fiborous spaghetti squash it sits upon — is one of my favorite and most often-prepared dishes. It’s my non-cleanse cleanse. A detoxifying dish without the “detox.” Parsley, with all its diuretic properties is a wonderful kidney cleanser. The higher-than-usual amount of lemon juice in this pesto provides a great tonic for the liver. Lemon juice is also said to be helpful for the skin. The b vitamins in the nutritional yeast provide essential vitamins and nutrients, especially for those of us following a vegan diet. Finally, pepitas (my secret ingredient) provide a healthy source of protein and fat. They are also said to help lower cholesterol. I like to add all of this to a heaping bed of low calorie, high-fiber (helps to “move things along,” so to speak…) spaghetti squash, which is one of my favorite foods to prepare.

Pepita-Parsley Pesto:

1 small bunch curly parsley

6 tablespoons raw pepitas

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon water (more as needed)

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste


Puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Add water as needed for desired texture.


  1. says

    I was JUST talking to my boyfriend about how we needed a recipe to use up our parsley – we don’t usually buy it and I was kind of stumped about using up a whole bunch. Well, not anymore! And we have a mammoth spaghetti squash languishing on our counter – clearly, this is meant to be! I’m totally making this tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe and idea :)

  2. Cindy says

    Beth – thank you so much for this recipe! I was wanting to make a vegan pesto and I couldn’t bear to shell out nearly $7 for that little jar of pine nuts that my store had. I am feeling the same way you are about detoxing/cleansing. I cannot exist on juice alone, so I’m trying to incorporate as many cleansing foods as I can. This is perfect!!!!

  3. says

    No joke, I was thinking of doing a pepita-parsley pesto! Great minds think alike. ;)

    I had a pesto sauce at a restaurant of the pepita and basil variety, and tried a recipe at home for a pepita and cilantro dressing. Ever since I’ve been dreaming of pairing pepitas with my other favorite leafy green herb. Now I don’t have to bother with the particulars, I will use your method. Well done!
    Sarah S. recently posted..Best of 2010

  4. says

    This looks delicious! I’ve never tried spaghetti squash, but looks nice with this. Thanks for the nutritional info too, this sounds like a detoxing but comforting dish! I love trying to pack as many superfoods in to one dish as i can, but i do this all the time… i think a ‘detox’ diet should be all year round, then it’s no longer a detox and becomes a way of life :-) Awesome post

    Teenie Foodie
    The Teenie Foodie recently posted..Apple and cinnamon chia seed pudding

  5. Cherie says

    I’m so glad I have everything I need to make this for lunch tomorrow. I just discovered nutritional yeast a couple weeks ago and loving it! Thanks!

  6. Beth says

    Cindy — I agree!! Pine nuts are so ridiculously expensive. I try to go with other nuts in pesto whenever I can!

    Sarah S. — That’s so funny! At least we can compare notes!!! : )

    Cherie — I love nutritional yeast, too. I feel like I add it to everything!

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