Grilled Zucchini and Artichokes with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto

dairy free pesto, cilantro pesto, grilled vegetables,  grilled zucchini, grilled artichokes, grilling side dishes, bbq side dishes, gluten free side dishes, dairy free side dishes, vegan grilling, vegan side dishes

Sooo let’s get back to food. I know we got a little sidetracked this week with talk of better skin care, coconut oil, and Mila but I’m returning to the nitty gritty ๐Ÿ™‚ Believe it or not, we actually have been eating (real, good, new) food around here!

But since it’s been hot as freaking hell this summer, I have little to no motivation to do much of anything, including cook. Sad when that happens, huh? We’ve been doing a lot of simple grilled menus – whatever protein and veggies we can scrounge together.

My favorite way to grill veggies in a grill basket and sometimes simple is perfectly satisfying. Other times, a little more oomph is a good thing. Rather than stick to the “same old” for Ben’s birthday feast, I threw in some artichokes with our stand-by grilled zucchini and summer squash, then tossed the hot, charred veggies with a cilantro-pistachio pesto. The dish was raved about that day… and addicting as leftovers the next day for breakfast, alongside a fried egg (is there anything that isn’t better with an egg?) And, it was too good not to make again.

dairy free pesto, cilantro pesto, grilled vegetables,  grilled zucchini, grilled artichokes, grilling side dishes, bbq side dishes, gluten free side dishes, dairy free side dishes, vegan grilling, vegan side dishes

Let’s talk about what kind of artichokes to use. My first preference would be to use fresh baby artichokes – they take a little longer to prep then simply opening a can, but are so worth it. Of course, since I only ever see them in the grocery store about twice a year, that choice isn’t gonna happen too often.

So in reality, my first choice is usually frozen artichokes. There are a few reasons I prefer frozen artichokes to canned ones:

  • Canned artichokes contain a lot of sodium, frozen ones do not
  • By choosing frozen, we’re avoiding BPA from the can
  • Frozen artichokes just look fresher and hold their shape much better

I can always find them at Trader Joe’s or my regular supermarket (Birdseye makes them)… except, of course, when I’ve already made a meal plan and absolutely, 100% need them.

You don’t even want to know about the hissy fit that ensued when both TJ’s and the supermarket were out, for days in a row.

I sucked it up and chose canned. Pretty sure they won’t kill me ๐Ÿ˜‰

dairy free pesto, cilantro pesto, grilled vegetables,  grilled zucchini, grilled artichokes, grilling side dishes, bbq side dishes, gluten free side dishes, dairy free side dishes, vegan grilling, vegan side dishes

Once you’ve got your artichokes, the rest comes together in a pinch. And you’ll be 100% excited about grilled veggies all over again ๐Ÿ™‚

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Grilled Zucchini and Artichokes with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto

Yield: 4-6 servings

A simple and healthy way to dress up grilled vegetables.


1 1/2 cups (packed) cilantro (70gm)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup shelled, toasted pistachios
juice + zest from 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 medium zucchini, about 1lb total
2 medium summer squash, about 1lb total
2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and quartered OR 1 12oz package frozen artichoke heart quarters


Combine the cilantro, garlic and pistachios in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until finely chopped. Add remaining pesto ingredients and process until well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Dice the zucchini and summer squash into large chunks and combine with the artihokes in a grill basket. Mist vegetables with cooking spray and toss to coat.

Grill the vegetables, covered, for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly charred in spots. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the pesto. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 192.9
Total Fat 10.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 7.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 533.1 mg
Potassium 661.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21.4 g
Dietary Fiber 6.1 g
Sugars 6.2 g
Protein 6.5 g

Cara Lyons,

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20 Responses to “Grilled Zucchini and Artichokes with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto”

  1. 1

    Erin — July 19, 2012 @ 7:17 am Reply

    Beautiful!!! What a brilliant idea – will definitely be trying the grilled veggie-pesto combo ASAP.

    • 1.1

      Cara — July 19, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

      Thanks Erin! Enjoy!

  2. 2

    Janae Wise @ Bring-Joy — July 19, 2012 @ 8:42 am Reply

    Cool blender. What brand?

    Love a good pesto, & boy do I need more ideas for how to use all the zucchini we’re getting. Thank you!

    • 2.1

      Cara — July 19, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

      It is a Breville. Honestly, I don’t love it – I want to treat myself to a Vitamix soon! Hope you are enjoying all your zucchini ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 2.2

      Janae Wise @ Bring-Joy — July 19, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

      that’s too bad. it’s pretty though! (I LOVE my Blendtec)

  3. 3

    momgateway — July 19, 2012 @ 9:54 am Reply

    What a beautiful and delicious dish! Must try this!

    • 3.1

      Cara — July 19, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

      Thanks! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. 4

    Lindey @ Our Share of the Harvest — July 19, 2012 @ 2:04 pm Reply

    Cara, this is SO pretty and SO seasonal yet what I love the most is that it’s a picnic-friendly side dish that isn’t pasta salad, potato salad or coleslaw–all of which I’m so sick of making. Definitely bookmarking this for our next cookout.

    • 4.1

      Cara — July 19, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

      that is a really good point I hadn’t even thought of – thanks!

  5. 5

    Kate — July 19, 2012 @ 9:01 pm Reply

    I miss the east coast, but not during the summer. I like being able to cook year-round.

  6. 6

    Joanne — July 19, 2012 @ 9:25 pm Reply

    In the midst of moving two weeks ago, I discovered a bag of frozen artichokes in my freezer! It was like Christmas. And this recipe…kinda like Christmas squared given my adoration of pesto.

  7. 7

    Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) — July 20, 2012 @ 12:08 pm Reply

    Summer wouldn’t be summer without grilled veggies. And adding a pesto to the mix just catapults it to a whole new and fabulous level! Thanks for the recipe Cara!

  8. 8

    Shannon — July 20, 2012 @ 3:52 pm Reply

    this sounds like a fantastic choice for the summer ๐Ÿ™‚ and pistachios in a pesto is pretty much amazing!

  9. 9

    grace — July 21, 2012 @ 5:34 pm Reply

    that pesto may be the best pesto ever made.

  10. 10

    Hannah — July 21, 2012 @ 10:42 pm Reply

    I’m one of those people who can’t stand cilantro, and this STILL looks delicious to me! I think that should say volumes both about the recipe and your photography. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. 11

    TheHolisticHealthCoach — August 8, 2012 @ 1:16 pm Reply

    This recipe looks amazing! I love all of the ingredients… can’t wait to try it! Thank you for posting!

    • 11.1

      Cara — August 8, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

      Thanks Tricia, hope you enjoy it!

  12. Pingback: How to store cilantro | 10 great cilantro recipes

  13. 12

    Womens Fitness Program — November 30, 2012 @ 8:04 am Reply

    Only 192 Calories! This looks so good, I like you recipes the best. You are very healthy. Not many remember how important it is to be healthy.

  14. Pingback: How to store cilantro, plus 10 great cilantro recipes - Migraine Relief Recipes

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