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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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Strawberry Basil Pesto Sauce & Pasta Salad

Pesto is one of those things that most people love, but also fear because it’s typically so calorie dense and heavy in oil.  This delicious strawberry version is lightened but certainly not lacking.  And while most pestos are made with parmesan cheese, this one is simple and vegan.  Trust me, you won’t miss it.  Toss with pasta noodles, greens, or grains for a tasty enhancement to your meal!

Strawberry Basil Pesto Sauce

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(Print this recipe!)

Ingredients: (makes 1 cup pesto)

  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10 medium strawberries
  • salt to taste
  • cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:  In my opinion, there is nothing in the world quite as fragrant or wonderful as fresh basil.  I am embarrassed to admit that I am a hardcore plant murderer, but somehow I have kept this basil going for almost two months!

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Start by tearing about 1 cup of basil leaves and adding to your food processor

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Add olive oil, almonds, and lemon juice, and pulse until well combined.  Almonds should be chopped very small when finished.

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Add strawberries (with tops removed) and pulse until smooth. 

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Season generously with salt and pepper.  Grab a spoon.  Try not to freak out about your amazing (vegan) strawberry pesto.

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Seriously, SO good.

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Spoon into a jar and save for using as a sauce or dressing for your next dish!

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I used mine to make a delicious seasonal pasta salad for a summer ingredient challenge cook-off party

Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad

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(Print this recipe!)

Ingredients:  (serves 6)

  • 1 bag gluten-free brown rice fusilli pasta
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 2 cups arugula leaves, whole
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup strawberry basil pesto sauce (see above)

Instructions:  Cook pasta according to directions – do not overcook!  Allow pasta to cool slightly, then add to a large bowl with strawberries, cucumber, basil, arugula, and almonds. 

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Toss to combine.  Add pesto sauce and stir to make sure salad is evenly coated. 

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Finish seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or cold.

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94 Comments so far
Leave a comment

chloe @ 321delish     at 1:06 pm

This looks amazing! I definitely am one of those people who is a little hesitant to use Pesto because of the dense calories. However, this is a great adaptation.

Too bad my food processor broke :(


Lauren @ Lawfully Wedded Wife     at 1:11 pm

My goodness this sounds so good! I don’t shy away from pesto for any reason, but this seems like a great summery twist on it that I will definitely try!


Lindsey     at 1:12 pm

That looks beyond amazing! I just need to let my basil plant revive itself from the damage I did last week when I made pesto!


Kelsey @ My Search of Summer     at 1:16 pm

That pasta salad looks so good! And I love how no matter what gathering you would bring the dish to, anyone who is gluten-free and/or vegan can eat it as well! Definitely making this soon!


Ashley     at 1:17 pm

Love that it actually looks pink from the strawbs. YUM!!


Kristen @ Change of Pace     at 1:21 pm

Yay thank you for sharing this! Basil is my favorite herb for sure!


Angela     at 1:22 pm

Yea! I’ve been thinking of this recipe nonstop since you mentioned it yesterday! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks!


Meredith Snyder     at 1:24 pm

It almost looks like a smoothie!


Hope     at 1:24 pm

This pasta salad looks amazing! I love that it is dairy-free because I am lactose intolerant. I am definitely going to make this for a party! :)


Cait's Plate     at 1:25 pm

Oh that looks heavenly. You basically just took two of my favorite foods and smashed them together – brilliant :)


Summer     at 1:28 pm

Very interesting flavor combination! I’ll have to try.

But inquiring minds want to know…who won the ingredient challenge??


Summer Reply:

Ah…I should have read through all the comments from yesterday and I would’ve seen Mama Pea ask the same thing. I think this should get honorable mention for originality!


Lauren     at 1:29 pm

You never cease to amaze me with every new recipe. I would have NEVER thought to use strawberry and pesto in the same sentence but this looks delicious and perfectly timed since my friend delivered about 5lbs of garden fresh strawberries to me yesterday!


Emma @ Getting There & Going Places     at 1:32 pm

I am so excited about this recipe! I am totally going to try it! :D It looks delicious! :D


Katie KS     at 1:37 pm

Looks good! Do you ever take a challenge? I know from last summer you love to create recipes for what’s in season. I’d love to see a new zucchini recipe. My husband picked 5 last night so I’m looking for new ideas (last night we had zucchini frittata and it was yummy.).


Chloe (In Fine Feather)     at 1:41 pm

That looks great, the perfect summery addition to pasta or fish! I’ll definitely have to try this recipe out :)


Alayna @ Thyme Bombe     at 1:43 pm

This is really special, totally original and so beautiful! Definitely gonna try making it soon.


Natalie S.     at 1:50 pm

Yum, that looks delicious!!! I love pesto and fresh basil, but I’ve never had it with strawberries before. Can’t wait to try this!


Maria     at 2:04 pm

This looks delicious! Going on next week’s meal plan!


Julie (A Case of the Runs)     at 2:14 pm

Very creative use of strawberries! I love making vegan pesto. I like using cilantro and green onion in mine.


Gina (Yogattude)     at 2:14 pm

The cucumber was the perfect crunchy texture addition to this dish! I also think the pesto sauce would be fabulous on a spinach/arugula based salad…oh the possibilities! I have all the ingredients on hand too;)


Anne @ The Denim Pixie     at 2:44 pm

Oh YUM. Can’t wait to try this!!


Jess (In My Healthy Opinion)     at 2:51 pm

This looks delicious! I think I’m going to make it this weekend. :)


R @ Learning As I Chop     at 2:57 pm

I like the idea of adding almonds!


Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama     at 3:10 pm

This is going on my must-try list. Looks incredible!!


Hayley @ Oat Couture     at 3:13 pm

Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing! :)


Laura     at 3:15 pm

A little basil tip I learned from my mother-in-law…

See the little white flowers on the basil plant in your second photo? Pinch those off and the plant will get bigger and bushier! Also, be sure it gets 6+ hours of sun per day.


Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen     at 3:24 pm

OMG – this looks fantastic! Strawberry and basil is such a great flavor combo!


Kath     at 3:41 pm

I’m SURE I would love this!


Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker     at 3:47 pm

Yes, please. Basil and strawberries go together so well. And they happen to be two things I always, always have on hand these days. Great recipe, Emily!


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen     at 3:51 pm

I’m dying to try the strawberry & basil combo. I think I might’ve eaten that pesto straight up, it looks so good!


Alexa @ Simple Eats     at 5:27 pm

I love pesto, and the combo of basil and berries is such a awesome choice for this!


Sarah B.     at 5:40 pm

Holy cow, you were reading my mind with this recipe! I was thinking today about wanting to try a new (and dairy free) pesto recipe. Both look delicous, can’t wait to try!


Alaina     at 5:53 pm

This sauce looks amazing! I don’t cook nearly enough with basil. I would buy herbs at the grocery store and they wouldn’t last very long. Any tips on helping them keep longer? :-)


Julie     at 6:36 pm

Such a lovely twist on a pasta salad!!!


Elizabeth     at 6:55 pm

Added to my pinterest for when I finally have a new food processor. Mine broke and my blender just doesn’t cut it, but I’m trying to hold out until after I get married in March since we registered for a nice new one.


Presley (run pretty)     at 7:49 pm

I fear savory fruit dishes (with the exception of mango salsa and mahi mahi)… I need to get over that. This looks like a first step :)


Lauren     at 8:26 pm

This looks amazing!!!! I need to try this.


Sarah     at 9:01 pm

Just made this for dinner – SO SO GOOD. I don’t even think those caps do it justice. I added hearts of palm and artichoke hearts to make it my main dish and am now telling anyone who will listen about this recipe.


RachelSD     at 9:06 pm

This looks so good I think I’ll make it for my sister’s baby shower… along with your banana peanut chocolate chip bread. Can’t get enough of that!


Katherine     at 9:50 pm

Major Nomnomnom here!


Mai     at 10:11 pm

Mmmm… looks awesome! I can’t wait to try it.


Kristina     at 10:50 pm

So creative – love it!


Allison     at 11:29 pm

WOW! That is so creative, and sounds delicious! I will definitely be trying this! :)


ashley @ cooking for john     at 12:08 am

this pesto looks delicious emily! strawberries are the fruit of summer, and you’ve taken ‘em to a whole other level!


Jackie @ That Deep Breath     at 12:18 am

This looks seriously delicious. What a great idea!


Katie     at 12:33 am

oh my! Your recipes have this way of making me want to hit the kitchen ASAP! Yum!


bitt     at 12:52 am

this could even be raw if on zucchini noodles instead of pasta. interesting and seasonal combo. hope you are enjoying seattle! it is still really much colder than usual for july.


Renee B     at 1:39 am

Wow! Looks fantastic!


Katy @ MonsterProof     at 9:24 am

I made this yesterday with pine nuts instead of almonds (it’s what I had)…so delicious! Thanks!


Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out     at 9:30 am

That looks SO weird and SO good.


Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open     at 9:51 am

Mmmmm. This post is making my stomach growl! I am definitely going to try your Strawberry Basil Pesto (loving the link to print). The idea sounds soo fresh and amazing. As you know now that you’re also living in western WA, strawberry season is HUGE here. I will have to run down to the farmer’s market this week and pick up these ingredients. YUM!


Anastasia     at 12:00 pm

Oh my goodness.. yum! I’m one of those people that don’t really experiment or branch out much when it comes to food but this is going to have to be an exception. It sounds absolutely delicious! The photos are really gorgeous too.


Lauren J     at 12:08 pm

I’m already a fruit in salad skeptic but fruit in my pasta is taking it to a whole new level. Sounds like I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants and take a walk on the wild side haha!


Chase     at 12:08 pm

I cannot wait to try this!!


Cindy Robinson     at 12:19 pm

Wow, this looks so….different! Such seemingly strange combinations, but sounds pretty darn good and refreshing. Can’t wait to try it. I too looooove basil, the fragrance is almost intoxicating to me! I would love a beautiful bouquet of basil for a special occasion. :)


Amber K     at 12:26 pm

Does the pesto taste sweet?

I am not a fan of savory/sweet combinations, so adding fruit to lunch/dinner dishes always freaks me out!


Emily Malone Reply:

Only the natural sweetness of the berries.


Kevie     at 1:07 pm

How long would you guess the pesto would keep in a jar in the fridge??


Emily Malone Reply:

I’d say a week, since it has fresh fruit in it.


Rachel @ The Avid Appetite     at 2:36 pm

What a great idea! I love strawberries and basil, so why not in pesto? Can’t wait to try it!


Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family     at 2:46 pm

Is this one sweet at all? I have never put strawberries in a sauce for pasta to know.

Thanks for this awesome recipe.


Emily Malone Reply:

Not overly sweet. Just the natural sweetness from the berries.


Katie G.     at 4:29 pm

Emily, Thanks so much for the idea! I made this last night for dinner (though I made some substitutions because I did not have your exact ingredients on hand). In the pesto, I used some of my pumpkin seed protein powder instead of almonds, and flax oil instead of olive (I’m trying to find ways to sneak in some extra Omega-3s). I didn’t have any pasta, so I used kamut instead, which is the grain I’m currently crazy about. Do you cook with it often? It’s just so nutty and hearty–I love it. Anyway, as the added veggies, I threw in green onions, tomatoes, and cucumber. So thanks for the inspiration! It was even better as leftovers today for lunch.


Emily Malone Reply:

Sounds delicious – I’m so glad you liked it! I never use kamut – maybe I should?


Katie G. Reply:

It’s pretty awesome as far as grains go. The grains are bigger than rice, and they hold their shape and chewiness and don’t get soggy. Plus, it has this lovely flavor, so usually I don’t put anything on it at all. It takes about an hour to cook, and I usually boil it in water, like I’m cooking noodles. Sometimes it’s hard to find, but I know that WholeFoods at 65th and Roosevelt has organic kamut in their bulk section.


Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life     at 4:39 pm

This recipe looks simply fab! With the hot weather and berries everyhwere right now, this is a must make! I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks for such a good looking recipe!


Big Annie     at 11:39 am

Hi, Thank syou so much for your site I love it and have made so many new entrees for my family..My siste is very fat (overweight) bless her heart, my question is should she cut down her peanut butter intake? Unfortunately she can’t walk to well due to hip problems, labrum tear and a few other falls..I want to be nice and try to help her before she ends up all alone..I greatly appreciate your advice..:)


Emily Malone Reply:

I can’t imagine that peanut butter is the root of the problem, although it is certainly high in calories and fat. I would suggest trying to get her in with a physical therapist so she can resume activity!


Gabrielle     at 1:40 pm

That looks/sounds so good, and a bit of summer in your mouth. I’d love to try it.


Mari     at 7:59 pm

I made this exact recipe for a dinner I hosted. It was refreshing and very summery. I had my doubts as it was coming together, but it ended up tasting as good as it looks. Thanks for sharing!


Crystal     at 9:55 pm

what a great summer twist to a pasta dish! Love it! I can’t wait to try it out!


Girls night : : Eat Run Garden     at 9:00 am

[...] You start by making the pesto sauce: Strawberry Basil Pesto Pasta Salad! [...]

Jamie     at 7:20 pm

Yum! Eating this right now and it’s fabulous!!


Tams     at 9:49 am

This sounds delicious and I love the idea above about using raw zucchini but I’m deathly allergic to almonds and all their kin. (If it’s a tree nut and I ingest it, it’s prophylactic shock and an ER for me even after an EPI pen injection.) Peanuts and pistachios do not affect me in the same way so are they a viable substitute? Any other suggestions out there? Thanks!


the wicked noodle     at 11:46 am

Thanks for sharing – it looks delicious!


what i ate wednesday #9 | My Search of Summer     at 10:11 pm

[...] pasta salad from last night.  I made Daily Garnish‘s Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad and it was absolutely delicious.  I also added chickpeas to the mix for a protein boost and had it [...]

Lettuce Eat     at 7:59 pm

Oh. My. Word. Yum!


Cari     at 7:22 pm

I made this for dinner tonight, and it was AWESOME! Thanks for the delicious recipe!


Emily Malone Reply:

Glad you liked it!


chickpea reci{peas} | livingtheglutenfreelife.com     at 11:46 am

[...] Added to the delicious {Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad} by Daily Garnish… [...]

Pesto & Powder « Here are some things     at 8:55 pm

[...] I found the pesto recipe on one of my favorite blogs, daily garnish. [...]

Rabia     at 2:59 pm

I am a year late to the party, but this was super awesome! It is great warm or cold and is perfect for picnics.


Emily Malone Reply:

So glad you liked the pesto sauce!


wesw     at 1:41 pm

made this for a BBQ, added some garlic, and parm cheese. Delicious.


Recipe: Strawberry-Basil Smoothies | Veggie Next Door     at 10:54 am

[...] I fell in love with my Strawberry-Basil Smoothies, my ears perked up when Jeni mentioned a Strawberry-Basil Pasta Salad she’d made from the blog Daily Garnish.   I made it for our last Book Club and it was a hit [...]

Recipe: Strawberry-Basil Smoothies | Veggie Next Door     at 10:54 am

[...] I fell in love with my Strawberry-Basil Smoothies, my ears perked up when Jeni mentioned a Strawberry-Basil Pasta Salad she’d made from the blog Daily Garnish.   I made it for our last Book Club and it was a hit [...]

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