Chicken, Dinner, Food, News, Recipes, Sauces, Vegetables

Grilled Chicken with Walnut Pesto Sauce and Warm Arugula Salad…

Pesto is an amazing sauce; it makes anything taste good from scrambled eggs to salad – so I have been working on a decent paleo version.  I think I came up with a pesto recipe, that in my humble opinion is better then most pestos which are laden with parmesean – and it’s super easy to put together.  Tonight I grilled some chicken and poured the green goodness on top and served this dish with a Warm Arugula Salad, and our favorite Smashed Cauliflower.  I have a bunch of left over pesto that I can’t wait to use as a topping for whatever else I eat tomorrow!! 

Grilled Chicken with Walnut Pesto Sauce


3-4 Chicken Breasts

Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning to taste (or just some cracked black pepper)

Pesto Sauce

4 oz fresh basil (3 ½ cups)

1 cup walnut halves and pieces

6 garlic cloves

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

Juice from ½ a lemon

Heat your grill over medium high heat for approximately 10 min.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with either the Trader Joe’s seasoning or with just some black pepper. Turn grill down to low and place the chicken on the grill.  Close the lid and grill for 7-10 minutes.  Flip the chicken, close the lid, and grill for another 7-10 minutes.  Remove the chicken and cover with tinfoil and set aside.  Now it’s time for the pesto.  In a food processor add the walnuts, garlic, sea salt, and olive oil.  Process until smooth.  Add the basil and lemon juice and process again until smooth.  Slice the chicken and spoon the pesto sauce on top to serve.

Warm Arugula Salad

6 strips nitrate free bacon diced

2 shallots finely chopped

7 oz arugula

1/4 cup olive oil

Handful of chopped walnuts

Ground black pepper to taste

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and set aside.  In a medium sized skillet brown the diced bacon.  Add the shallots and saute with the bacon until the shallots are translucent.  Add the olive oil to the pan and heat just until warm.  Pour the olive oil, bacon, shallot mixture over the arugula and mix well.  The heat from the bacon mixture will slightly wilt the arugula – this is what you want!  Add some fresh ground black pepper and serve immediately topped with a sprinkle of walnuts.

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Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Wow, this looks amazing! I’ll share it on my blog tomorrow. yum.

  2. Thank you for all of your great recipes. Our family has really enjoyed going paleo. In fact I had some of the “Quick Curry Soup” for lunch today. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  3. John says:

    The pesto was awsome! Great taste and went very well with the chicken.

  4. Claudia says:

    Wow! I just had dinner (this is The Netherlands, in case your wondering) and now I’m hungry all over again. Great pictures! Will definitely give it a try!

  5. Tom says:

    Recipe looks great. I think I’ll make it for dinner tomorrow. How do I make smashed cauliflower? I’ve tried it before and it didn’t come out to good.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Tom! For the smashed cauliflower, I cut a head of cauliflower into florets, and then steam them until they are really soft. Melt a big spoonful of ghee or organic butter in a bowl, add the cauliflower, and with a potatoe masher, smash the caulilfower. Add a bit of sea salt and some fresh cracked pepper. When you smash by hand, it will be lumpy, almost more like a rice consistency. If you want a smooth mash, you can use a food processor if you like. You can also spice it up with curry powder, garlic, rosemary, or whatever else you like. Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Dave says:

    Sarah – The pesto and the salad were fantastic. Thanks so much for all of your work on this site. My wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune issue and has seen big improvements since we switched to a Paleo diet. You blog has been an invaluable resource as we try to implement Paleo in a practical way. We love the recipes and our kids like them too.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Dave,
      I’m so glad that your wife has been doing better since switching to paleo eating! Thank you so much for your feedback, and please keep me posted on how things go!

  7. Kelley says:

    Made this for dinner last night!! Incredible! Used the leftover pesto today for lunch over Mahi Mahi.

  8. Keri says:

    Can’t wait to try this! My husband and I recently jumped on the Paleo bandwagon. I really enjoy eating meals as opposed to random foods that fit the Paleo standard, but I’ve been having trouble coming up with Paleo meals on my own. Thanks so much for sharing all your tips/recipes!

  9. Made this tonight. DELISH! That pesto sauce was great. Here’s the proof:

    Who said New Yorkers can’t cook? Thank you!

  10. Sarah says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Cool pic – great job it looks yummy! : )

  11. Tennille says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!!!!

  12. Kelly says:

    Wow! I just found your website. All your recipes look amazing, and easy to make! Thanks! I can’t wait to try this recipe tonight. Do your boys get to eat much junk food? I have 2 little ones and it’s so hard to stay paleo with them in the house!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Kelly! Well, I don’t allow junk food in my house so no, they don’t eat much junk. We go out to ice cream now and then and when we do go out to eat, which is not that often, they order what they want to, but they all make pretty good choices even outside of the house, but we have been eating strict paleo for almost 3 years so it’s been a journey to get to where we are now. I’m all about getting the kids involved in buying and making our food which really helps them all get excited about eating paleo, we also are honest with the older ones and try to teach them why we eat the way we do and to them it’s just normal now… I hope that helps!

  13. Awesome pesto! How long would you say the pesto is good for? Since there’s no egg or anything that can spoil really easily. Just curious…

  14. Theresa says:

    Made this for dinner tonight, it was really good! Thanks for the ideas!

  15. I LOVE your pesto recipe, especially since most Pesto’s use Pine Nuts and I am allergic.

  16. Yum! I posted a similar recipe on my blog not too long ago using most of the same ingredients but it’s a macadamia nut/cilantro version! Same deal, just some herb and nut swaps to try.

  17. Looks delish. Kinda new to this Paleo diet…actually trying to wean my way in which isn’t exactly easy after being addicted to carbs for my whole life. But I’ve seen what its done for a few of my friends and I’ll willing to give it a shot. If nothing more the low-carbs should help me lose, as I’ve unfortunately become insulin resistant like the rest of America.

  18. I just made the Pesto Sauce. I felt like 1 tsp of sea salt was a bit much. When I make it again I will use 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Besides that, it was easy and full of flavor.

    1. Glad you liked it Eric! : )

  19. Kim Byrne says:

    If you were to make a big patch of the pesto sauce, how long will it stay good for?


    1. Sarah says:

      For about 5 days in the fridge but I will freeze mine and it’s good for a couple of months in the freezer!!

  20. This looks amazing! *drool*

  21. Lindsay says:

    This is an old post, but I just had to come by and say that this is absolutely delicious. We were blown away by how much the pesto really tastes just like pesto. (Makes me wonder if walnuts could sub for parmesan in pasta sauce, too, haha.) When we were done our chicken, there was just a little pesto left, not really enough to save, and I ate it by itself. It was just way too good to waste. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  22. cris says:

    can a Magic Bullet be used in place of food processor?

    1. Sarah says:

      As long as it’s the kind that is big enough to hold everything, I think it would work fine!!

  23. Jordan says:

    I’m new to Paleo and stumbled across your website. I am loving it! I want to cook Paleo for my family, but my son is anaphylactic to nuts. Is there a substitute for walnuts/nuts in your pesto recipe? Could I use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds? Or could I eliminate them from the recipe?


    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Jordan, I would use whatever seeds you like best! The pesto will have a better consistency that way. I like the idea of using toasted pumpkin seeds, that would give it a very yummy flavor in my opinion! let me know how it turns out!

  24. Just wanted to say — I have made this pesto three times now, with different kinds of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews) and it is FANTASTIC every time. I thought I was going to have problems on my Whole30 because I missed my Parmesan so much, but this is completely delicious without the cheese. This page is permanently bookmarked in my browser.

    1. I agree! I’m planning my first week of Whole 30 meals at the moment–I’m hoping it will be easier to stay on track with a solid week’s worth of groceries and recipes prepared. One of my favorite meals is spaghetti squash with pesto and leftover chicken, and I have a big jar of almonds just waiting to be used in Sarah’s recipe! Looking forward to trying it.

  25. Christine says:

    Made the pesto this weekend, then baked some chicken in it… I cannot stop eating it! It is multiple exclamation points amazing!!!

  26. The sauce was a little bland so I added pure maple syrup and almond milk. It tasted great afterwards and used it as a salad dressing too. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  27. Penny says:

    After recently discovering my daughter’s dairy allergy and my gluten intolerance, we are trying to undertake Paleo as a lifestyle. (We have had some success with it in the past, mainly during times of increased commitment to physical fitness. So, back on the bandwagon.) I just whipped up this pesto, and after one quick taste, ran to my computer to report how amazing it is. Thanks! This site is going to be a huge help in getting us over the hump.

  28. Emily Threlkeld says:

    I just made your pesto as well and it is amazing! Thank you!

  29. Amanda says:

    I made the arugula salad tonight with italian sausage instead of bacon. So delicious! The walnuts topped it off so nicely. Thanks. 🙂

  30. reluctantMANGO says:

    This pesto recipe ROCKS! I’m making extra batches to freeze until winter, so I can enjoy it again and again 🙂

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