Starts & Snacks

Dairy-Free Arugula Lemon Pesto

By: Ginny Mahar

Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost Paleo, Paleo, Vegan, Plant-Based, Low-Carb, Keto 


With the spicy kick of arugula and fresh garlic, the citrusy perfume of lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, and sumptuous extra virgin olive oil, this pesto is explosively delicious. When paired with sweet and earthy beets, it becomes something truly special.

I thought it might be nice to share a recipe you could serve at a celebration (perhaps during holiday season) that will not only dazzle the eyes and taste buds but also pump up the nutrient-density at the hors d’oeuvre table. Plus, it’s always nice to know you have something delicious and compliant to eat at festive gatherings (once we’re having gatherings again).

Though I’d happily eat this pesto any day of the year, when served with beet chips the colors scream Christmas. Even Santa was spying my bowl. That guy sees everything! He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, and he knows when you’re making Dairy-Free Arugula Lemon Pesto (with Beet Chips)!

In addition to replacing old holiday favorites, I love trying new festive recipes, like this one. The red and green flavor extravaganza of this pesto pairing is part of a growing stack of new holiday-worthy recipes that support (rather than undermine) our health. I find myself looking forward to making them now at holiday time, which has happily dulled the pangs of longing for some traditional family recipes that simply don’t work for me anymore. 

While my highly-recommended vehicle for this pesto is beet chips, I encourage you to take liberties with your format. This pesto would be just as happy atop a plate of spiralized beet…boodles, or zucchini zoodles for that matter. You could drizzle it over simple roasted beets topped with diced avocado (another surprisingly good combination). Or you could go full-deconstructionist and morph the ingredients into a rustic, hearty, and colorful beet and arugula salad. Alternately, use this pesto as a topping for roast chicken or broiled fish. Chef’s choice! 

3 Ways to Beet Chips

I tried a couple of methods for making beet chips at home. These oven-baked ones from A Spicy Perspective are a good option if you want to avoid frying, but holy sheet pans batman! Even a half-batch filled five sheet pans and yielded just a few cups of chips. Good thing my new oven is a convection one, so I could bake three sheets at a time, but still…this option may be more than any of us want to take on during such a busy time of year. 

The second (admittedly less-healthy) version of beet chips from Giada de Laurentis required that I dig my deep fryer out from the dungeon I hide it in. However, the results were undeniably super-yum. For the record, I do NOT use vegetable oil for frying, which is treated with all kinds of toxic solvents, bleaches, and is often made from things like GMO soybeans. Instead, I used a combination of high-heat friendly fats and oils from our downloadable list

This fried version kept very well, and just two large beets yielded the batch of chips you see in these photos. I didn’t use her recommended seasonings, but just sprinkled lightly with salt. They were sweeter, tastier, and more beautiful than any beet chip I’ve ever pulled out of a bag, and stayed crisp in an airtight container for two days (after which they were all gone). I know the fryer isn’t exactly a healthy choice, but if noshing on these helps keep your hand out of the Christmas cookies, hey, that’s something, right?

Finally, the quickest, easiest, and perhaps most cost-effective option is to buy a bag of beet chips. Terra makes a “Sweets & Beets” combo bag that is widely available and would do in a pinch. Our personal favorite is Sweet Potato Awesome. Their Freeze-Fried Beet Slices, which are lightly sprinkled with sea salt, are made with coconut oil and absolutely to die for! Enjoy 10% OFF your Sweet Potato Order with our exclusive code, AWESOMESAUCE. If you’d rather support your local grocery stores, beet chips have become pretty easy to find at any health-food store. 

Here’s some info about the thyroid-friendly nutrients in this dish:

5 from 5 votes

Dairy-Free Arugula Lemon Pesto

Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost Paleo, Paleo, Vegan, Plant-based, Low-Carb, Keto

My favorite way to serve this zesty, dairy-free pesto is with beet chips, but it would also be nice over spiralized beet or zucchini noodles, roasted beets, or as a topper for fish or grilled chicken.


Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8


  • 6 oz arugulawashed and dried
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 large garlic clovesroughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp. toasted pine nutssee note 1, or chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. coarse flake sea saltlike Maldon
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 c to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lemon juiceor sub. white wine vinegar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until very finely minced.

Recipe Notes

Pine nuts are on the list of goitrogenic foods, but toasting them helps to reduce their goitrogenic compounds.

Nutritional Info Print
Nutrition Facts
Dairy-Free Arugula Lemon Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 104 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 245mg10%
Potassium 112mg3%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 505IU10%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About the Author

Thyroid Refresh Co-founder Ginny Mahar is the mom and recipe blogger formerly known as Hypothyroid Chef. After struggling with the residual symptoms of Hashimoto’s for over four years, she embarked on her own process of adopting a thyroid-specific diet and lifestyle. Within one year, she restored her vitality and lowered her thyroid antibodies by half. Ginny is a passionate advocate of supporting others on their journeys toward better health. She is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, cooking instructor, writer, and entrepreneur.