Savory Raw Pesto Salad

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One of the most fascinating health trends is the raw (or living) foods movement.

Looking for a delicious, savory, easy to prepare raw main dish? We have the perfect salad for you!

They say you are what you eat. In this case, I believe raw foods make a very strong case, because you are eating pure, living, plant-based ingredients that are packed with nutrients.

Looking for a delicious, savory, easy to prepare raw main dish? We have the perfect salad for you. No special equipment is needed, just fresh healthy ingredients, and a desire to look and feel great! And, if you have leftover pesto it freezes beautifully, ready to add to a busy weeknight dinner. This is the perfect warm weather dish. If you have a garden, even better! Check out the recipe now!

After eating raw for a while, some adherents to this diet claim one’s complexion takes on a healthy glow, a.k.a. “the raw food glow.”

Doesn’t hurt to try, right?


I was initially inspired to explore this diet a few years ago, when I ate at my first vegan raw foods restaurant. We were served raw pizza, salad, and I also tried a bite of my friend’s lasagna.

Everything was extremely delicious and tasty, and I did not miss the dairy products or the cooked ingredients at all.

The salad that I ordered was so delicious and satisfying, I used it as the inspiration for the salad that I shared here, adjusted according to my personal tastes.

I do not eat 100 percent raw, but I have increased my raw food intake considerably, and I always feel great and look great after eating this way.

Raw Tossed Salad |

I love the thought of living food. This means some of those good nutrients that you are consuming are still alive, since they are fresh and have not been degraded with time or via exposure to excessive heat.

To get the most nutritional impact, it’s best to source locally grown ingredients that were recently harvested, rather than items that required lengthy travel or endured long periods on store shelves before they reached your plate.

The only drawback here is that some raw recipes require a dehydrator or a lot of ingredients to make. I do, however, recommend purchasing a dehydrator of your own – it’s a great investment, one that will open up your raw eating possibilities immensely!

This particular recipe is easy to make, and perfect for raw food diet newbies – no special equipment required, and it really fills you up.

Some raw foods are not very filling, and you’ll need to prepare several side dishes to make a good hearty meal. But this is not the case with this special salad.

You Are What You Eat

Think about eating a big, greasy hamburger with fries versus a nice big, raw salad. Imagine how the latter is going to affect your health for the better, and therefore affect how you look and feel in a good way.

Prepping Red Cabbage |

Your body’s health is affected drastically by what you eat. So, before picking up an unhealthy snack, remember that you literally are what you eat! This leads us to the wonderful health benefits of eating raw.

Health Benefits

According to Charlie Trotter, master chef and author of Raw (one of my favorite books, which is available on Amazon), the most important health aspect of eating raw or living foods is enzyme preservation.

Enzymes help you to digest food, and act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in your body. Trotter claims cooking foods above 118°F destroys these natural enzymes, forcing our bodies to generate more of the enzymes required to digest food.

Some claim our bodies cannot produce the perfect enzyme mix that is naturally present in uncooked foods when consuming cooked foods. And some experts claim this results in partially digested fats, proteins, and starches that can clog your body’s digestive tract and arteries.

Shredded Carrots |

These experts have stated that cooked foods deplete our finite enzyme reserve. This is a growing problem as we get older – in old age, you will only have about one-thirteenth the enzyme activity level that you had when you were 18.

The only drawback when eating raw is that it is more expensive and often more time consuming to source and prepare than a more conventional diet. But the payoff makes it well worth it.

When eating raw, the foods must be seasonal, very fresh, and organic. And of course, they must be thoroughly cleaned, rinsed, and dried.

As always, wash your hands thoroughly before touching any food, and use a clean cutting board to prepare your ingredients.

If you want to clean your vegetables extra well, add a little white vinegar to the water. This will help to remove dirt, dust, wax, and some bacteria.

Health Tips

Nuts and seeds and can be germinated or soaked before eating. Again, whether or not you choose to do this really depends on the person, the recipe, and one’s raw food beliefs.

Soaking helps to stimulate germination and brings the seed to life. It also makes seeds easier to digest, and increases the bioavailability of nutrients. This method can also enhance the flavor and texture of these ingredients.

If you choose to sprout your raw nuts or seeds, soak them in water for a few hours or overnight before using.

About This Recipe

Whether or not you are a raw food fanatic, this is main dish salad is satisfying and delicious. Everybody that I have served it to has fallen in love with it.

It’s vibrant, fresh, and full of a variety of textures and flavors, in all colors of the rainbow.

Just one big plate of this savory dish, and satisfaction is guaranteed! It’s filling, thanks to the addition of seeds and nuts, cabbage, sundried tomatoes, and avocado, which are all nutritious and delicious!

I try to eat an avocado a day for all of the healthy nutrition that they offer, and because I love their texture and flavor. I find them to be a great vegan replacement for cheese that’s also filling.

For example, having a sandwich or toast with avocado spread on it instead of cream cheese is rich and satisfying, without the cholesterol or salt, and with the added nutrition of this tasty, green, and fresh produce.

Both are filling, but the avocado has not been cooked or processed, and it’s additive free – you are eating it exactly how nature made it.

No special equipment is needed to make this savory main dish salad, just fresh and healthy ingredients. We share the recipe:

General Preparation Methods

Raw food preparation includes various techniques, such as juicing, blending, and dehydrating.

There are several juicing methods available: squeezing as you would oranges, extracting juice from vegetables such as carrots and beets in a juicing machine that uses centrifugal force and a spinning blade, or cold pressing juice with a high pressure machine.

The juicing machine will extract the juice, leaving the tough fibers behind in the filter. You will need a juicer for producing liquid from hard produce in particular, things like carrots and beets.

Blending is also an excellent method for making raw salsas, sauces, or smoothies. For this, you’ll need a food processor or blender (preferably high-speed).

Dehydration is used for making dried fruits and vegetables, crunchy crackers, chips, jerky, and flatbreads without high-temperature cooking. A dehydrator will remove the water, but the food’s enzymes stay intact thanks to low temperatures and slow cook times.

Review our suggested tools and appliances for a raw food kitchen. All of our recommendations will help you quickly and safely prep your ingredients.

Vinaigrette Preparation Tips

For salad dressings, I like to use the Jamie Oliver method of mixing them, to make what he calls “jam jar dressings.”

Use an old jam jar and the following foolproof proportions of basic ingredients. This is a classic! Because this salad already has a lot of flavors going on, you don’t need a super fancy dressing with a lot of strong flavors.

Make This Savory Raw Salad with Pesto |

The proportions of oil and vinegar or citrus juice should always be the same in all the various dressings you may be creating. This is because these proportions create a tasty balance of sour to neutral, and contain enough oil to stick to the salad ingredients. Thus, your salad will not taste too sour or bitter.

You can create all sorts of dressings using these proportions. You can also add honey or mustard, or even fruit. There are so many variations on the classic vinaigrette to choose from!

The simple proportions are as follows:

3 parts oil to 1 part something sour or tart, like vinegar or citrus.

The Recipe

Savory Raw Pesto Salad Recipe |
Savory Raw Pesto Salad
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
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If you are making your own pesto at home, do not toast the pine nuts if you want this to be a 100% raw meal, and do not add cheese unless a raw product is available. You can usually find cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or your local health food store.

The amount of pesto that you choose to use really depends on your personal preferences. I like to add about 1/4 cup to the whole salad. You can always top your own individual portion off with more, if you like.


You can also use this cheese for your garnish, or your favorite variety of raw cheese. If this is too soft to grate, just dice it into very small pieces instead.


If you can’t find escarole, choose whatever fresh, organic, in-season lettuce mix you want to use.

4 servings
4 servings
Savory Raw Pesto Salad Recipe |
Savory Raw Pesto Salad
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe

If you are making your own pesto at home, do not toast the pine nuts if you want this to be a 100% raw meal, and do not add cheese unless a raw product is available. You can usually find cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or your local health food store.

The amount of pesto that you choose to use really depends on your personal preferences. I like to add about 1/4 cup to the whole salad. You can always top your own individual portion off with more, if you like.


You can also use this cheese for your garnish, or your favorite variety of raw cheese. If this is too soft to grate, just dice it into very small pieces instead.


If you can’t find escarole, choose whatever fresh, organic, in-season lettuce mix you want to use.

4 servings
4 servings
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 handful escarole lettuce cleaned, dried and torn up into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 handful arugula washed and dried well
  • Small handful purple cabbage sliced very thinly
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 avocado sliced half and cut lengthwise into thin slices, seed side down
  • 1/2 tomato cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 5 sundried tomatoes in oil or water, chopped (depending on your personal preference)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw pesto
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • Handful of grated cheese, raw and unpasteurized
Servings: servings
  1. First, make the salad dressing. Combine olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper in a jar and put on the lid. Shake, shake, shake! Adjust ingredients to suit your taste. Set aside.
  2. Next, place the lettuce, arugula, cabbage, carrots, avocado, tomatoes and raisins in a large, non-reactive (i.e. not aluminum or copper) bowl.
  3. Dab dollops of pesto by the spoonful over the salad in various places over the top, and toss gently.
  4. Garnish with the sunflower seeds and cheese.
  5. Drizzle dressing on top.
  6. Toss one last time and serve immediately, while it’s still fresh and cool.

Now that you know all about the health benefits of eating raw, and have this delicious and easy recipe with no special equipment required to make it, it’s time to try it out! Let us know what you think in the comments area.

And if you love pesto, be sure to check out these other delicious recipes:

The staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assumes no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Lori Jo Hendrix

Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.

21 thoughts on “Savory Raw Pesto Salad”

  1. Growing up I was one of those rare children who loved vegetables. I love the colours, textures and the flavors of almost every vegetable out there, especially the crunchy ones. I love salads and that is what I mainly live on. Thanks for sharing this recipe, it really looks amazing.

    • Hi NormaD,

      You are welcome!

      That is great you love vegetables! So many ways to make them. You are going to especially love this one due to the pesto aspect, especially when you are in the mood for one that is filling and want to have a salad as your main course.


  2. This is good stuff. My mother is really into eating this way, although she’s not 100% there yet. She swears by it though and is always trying to do more with it. She does seem to feel better after making several changes, so I’m grateful for that.

    This also looks delicious. Tastes good and good for you? What’s not to like, right?

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ll have to share this with my mother.

    • Hi Zyni,

      Thank you!

      You and your Mom will love it and it will be a nice variety to add to the various types of salads you are already making. This recipe is definitely very different and not common.


  3. I actually really like the idea of eating raw, it’s completely out of my comfort zone, so that’s something that I really need to try out. I’m also not a big fan of vegetables, but I’m trying to commit to eating healthier now, let’s see if I can make this, lol.
    I also really liked the spicy and acidic touch that this salad might have, that’s a feature that I really like about food, and this salad won’t be the exception.

    • Hi anorexorcist,

      Eating raw makes you feel better for sure, although preparation is more work. That is what i like about this salad, it is not so much work and a big dish of it is filling.

      Even non vegetable fans will like this because of the pesto, avpcado, seeds, etc.

      Congratulations on your commitment to eating healthier.

  4. Well I have to admit that when I first heard of raw foods I was a little scared, or at least put off by the term. Of course once you understand what it is it is not scary at all, but rather a nutritious and delicious meal or snack, depending on the size. That is the main reason I love salads of all types, you can make it what you want, and this one certainly has that covered. It would be perfect for this terrible heat wave that we are getting here, so that is always nice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi rz3300,

      I felt the same way at first. How could raw foods be delicious and filling but I was pleasantly surprised. They are delicious and can be filling when made the correct way.


  5. Seeing this recipe today of all days was like a huge blessing and almost fate. My Uncle Jeff came home today. He is a bodybuilder and a big proponent of raw food, so he naturally loves salad. However, his favorite thing in the world is pesto-anything….pasta, pizza, but I have never seen a pesto salad before! We are definitely making this for him for lunch tomorrow in honor of his return. Thanks so much for the refreshing idea!

    • Hi Lisa Davis,

      Me too, I am a pesto fanatic! He is going to be surprised and love is special treat.

      You are welcome, enjoy! BTW, you sound like a very sweet niece, he is lucky to have you 🙂

  6. As a vegetarian I’m always on the look out for recipes that are vegan as I like to have the odd vegan day when I can as long as it’s easy to prepare. Thanks for the tips on avocados, which also taste good roasted if they feel a bit too hard. I tried it in a taco once and it was great which is an option if people find the raw texture a bit off putting.

    My friend is thinking of doing a mercury detox diet and this would be great for him to try.

    • Hi Bella,

      You are welcome and I am glad you are anxious to try it!

      I have not roasted an avocado yet, I will try it. Occasionally I open one too early. If they get too old I used them as a hair or facial mask, lol.

      Let us know how your friend likes the recipe.


  7. Oooh this one looks like a great salad! I know it wouldn’t be raw if I did this, but I’m wanting to try this as a pita bread filling, to me that sounds like the perfect meal. I’m always on the lookout for good cold meal ideas this time of year, I’m looking forward to tasting this one.

    • Hi Lynk,

      Thank you!

      You know what, it would be great as a pita bread filling, good idea!

      Let us know how you like it after you make it.


  8. I have always liked the idea of eating healthier and raw food definitely qualifies as that. I have always been iffy about where to start but I am super excited to add this delicious looking salad to my rotation! I LOVE avocados too! My favorite! I love the tip of having an avocado spread instead of cheese. I love cheese, but I need to lay off the dairy a bit. Thank you for this recipe and all the awesome tips too! I for sure need to get a dehydrator and a juicer. I would juice so much if I had one! My friend and I used to use her mom’s juicer and we tried so many things! Celery is salty! Haha And cilantro is over-powering! But other wise we loved juicing things! Which juicer would you recommend?

    • Hi Darci Stout,

      Yes, avocado is much healthier than cheese and so delicious!

      I just confess, my juicer was inherited so I am not one to ask on which ones are the best. I guess a lot would depend on your price range.

  9. I made this tonight and it is absolutely delicious! I bought ready made pesto, though, and think it would have been even better if I had made my own.

    • Hi Alan Stephens,

      I guarantee you, once you make your own you will never purchase another store bought pesto in your life! 😉

  10. I actually went to the supermarket this morning and bought some veggies to make a good salad, the avocado gives it the magic, seems like I will be copyign this down so I can prepare it this afternoon along with my mom. She definitely loves this kind of salad, especially because of the colors on it. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

  11. I’ve to admit that I was drawn to the article because of the colorful picture. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t eat as much vegetables, much more raw. I only forced myself some years back when I had a health scare and didn’t want to take in more medicines. As you said here, there’s truly much benefit to eating more living plant-based foods. I greatly benefited to eating more servings of vegetables. Unfortunately, I returned to my wayward ways and this article is kind of a reminder of the benefits I’m again missing for not eating as much vegetables.

  12. This looks pretty good. I’ve heard a lot about the raw foods movement, and some of my friends are huge proponents of raw food. This seems like a tasty, easy meal to prepare. I’m not sure how I feel about golden raisins- I’m not a huge fan of them. I would probably use pine nuts instead. They’re more expensive, but oh so delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this. I might just serve it at the next potluck I go to and see how well it goes over.


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