Avocado Pesto

I spent approximately 2 days trying to title this recipe, because this is definitely not pesto. I mean it is but it’s not. I tend to sit on the fence when it comes to tampering with Italian food; part of me dies inside when carbonara is made with cream but then another part of me makes a Caprese salad with peaches. And up until very recently I felt that pesto was perfect as it was and that it should be left to be just that. But then Pinterest happened and I got curious.

I went back and forth for a while, debating whether what could potentially just be guacamole on spaghetti would be worth trying out, and if it would even be a decent substitute for the real deal. Ultimately I caved after working out how many calories would be saved by making this healthier and lighter version. Calories saved for cake my friends.

So now I’m basically eating pasta every day and telling everyone about the joys of this avocado basil sauce thing.

After the success of the imposter pesto I told my boyfriend that we’ll be eating it when we move in together. He said we’ll see, which in Italian translates to stai cazzo scherzando? He’s a traditionalist, and I guess this isn’t really pesto.

Still damn delicious though.

Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto


Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto, or whatever

Makes enough for 2

30g fresh basil, stalks removed and discarded
3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced – or 1/2 teaspoon garlic purée
1 medium and perfectly ripe avocado
Zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half
200g spaghetti or pasta of your choice

Finely chop the basil leaves until they resemble crumbs. This will take a few minutes, but just keep at it. You want them to be really fine. Zest the lemon right onto the basil, add the garlic and cheese and season well. Using the knife chop all of the ingredients so they combine. The mix will be dry but that’s cool – transfer to a bowl.

Mash the avocado with a fork until smooth then add to the basil mix. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Check for seasoning and you’re done.

When adding to the spaghetti reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta’s cooking water, this will loosen the sauce and help the sauce coat the pasta evenly.

Serve with extra parmesan and black pepper.

PS. If you want to make the real stuff, click here.


16 thoughts on “Avocado Pesto i.e. Not Pesto But Still Delicious

  1. Michael Goldman says:

    I’m not convinced yet. Bring some in x
    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
    From: Thyme & Honey
    Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2014 16:18:05 +0000
    ReplyTo: Thyme & Honey
    Subject: [New post] Avocado Pesto i.e. Not Pesto But Still Delicious

    Gabriella posted: ” I spent approximately 2 days trying to title this recipe, because this is definitely not pesto. I mean it is but it’s not. I tend to sit on the fence when it comes to tampering with Italian food; part of me dies inside when carbonara is made with crea”

  2. As Alice would say :”Curiouser and curiouser”. .Not too sure about this but your photography is divine. Perhaps it is worth a try. I put spring peas in my guacamole to make it lighter so I guess I can’t talk.

    1. Gabriella says:

      It’s taken me about a year to try this out, all of the recipes I had been looking at looked way too avocado-y and not pesto-y enough which was putting me off. But… if you use the avocado more as a binder in place of the oil/butter rather than the main flavour component, it works 🙂

  3. Rosh says:

    Anything with avocado is a keeper. The photos are amazing. Pesto is usually too rich for me, so this would be a good alternative.

    1. Gabriella says:

      Thank you! Yes this lighter than pesto, the avocado really lifts it – hope you enjoy!

  4. This looks yummy. Love ALL the ingredients but never thought of using avocado. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. do you serve this over warm or cold pasta? I love, love, love avocado with basil and lemon zest, but the idea of warm avocado just does not appeal. I will definitely try this as a room temp/cold pasta salad topping. thanks for the lovely idea!

    1. Gabriella says:

      I know exactly what you mean about hot avocado! Baked avocado is literally my worst nightmare. But with this I serve it with hot pasta like I would if using regular pesto. The idea is that avocado isn’t the major player but used rather as a substitute for oil/butter. It would work just as well in a cold pasta salad though! 🙂

  6. Malar says:

    Just saw this post, can’t wait to try it. It looks awesome 🙂

  7. Liza Wilson says:

    That looks good,kind go a twist on the traditional plain basil pesto.

  8. Donald Smolik says:

    I am a huge fan of using avocado for sauces; I love this one!

  9. thefolia says:

    I mix avocado with just about every green leave out there, but I never thought to smear it with pasta–thanks for the suggestion. Happy Nesting!

    1. Gabriella says:

      I’m crazy about avos especially right now because they’re in their prime! Avocado ‘pesto’ is one of my favourites when I’m trying to make healthy changes in my diet here and there. Hope you like it!

  10. sparklesr says:

    Looks lovely…have you tried a pasta alternative…courgetti is delicious (courgette)!!!!

  11. I’ve never made anything with “warm” avocado – does it change the texture or flavor much?

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