Arugula Walnut Pesto

I meant to get this post up for St. Patrick’s Day, since it’s, you know, green.

St. Patrick’s Day has passed, but green food can and should be eaten all year round (shocker, I know).

Making pesto is one of those simple, time saving things you can do to always have a quick dinner on hand. It can easily be transformed into a tasty meal after a long day at the office, or when you’re sick and just don’t feel like exerting yourself much, but still have to feed your starving, neglected, “all we’ve been eating is frozen pizza” family (this may or may not be happening in our house lately).

A while back, I realized that buying pesto pre-made is really…dumb. Not only is it more expensive than making it, but it’s less flavorful and usually has strange additives to preserve it.

When a recipe is as simple as throwing all the ingredients together in a food processor and pulsing them for a few seconds and you’re buying it at the store, you might start to wonder things. Things like, “Why don’t I make this at home if it’s so easy? Is it for the same reason I wear yoga pants for three days in a row? But yoga pants are easy. They’re stretchy. They make me look like a lazy shlub…oh, wait. I look like a lazy shlub. I’m a lazy, pesto-buying shlub!”

Yes, that is how this played out in my mind.

Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, but it can also be made with all kinds of other vegetables. Arugula, spinach, garlic scapes, and artichokes all make lovely pestos.

I particularly love using arugula for pesto because of its naturally peppery bite that packs a punch.

Toss a bit of this together with some warm pasta and sliced cherry tomatoes for a fast dinner. It might be a nice change from wearing yoga pants and eating frozen pizza (but almost as easy and less shlubby).

Arugula Pesto
Makes approximately 1 pint

3 cups well-washed arugula
4 cloves whole peeled garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shelled walnuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (approx 2 Tbs.)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor. Pulse, approximately 30 seconds, or until the pesto is coarsely ground and well-combined.

Use as a topping on toasted baguette or toss with warm pasta for a quick dinner.

To store, spoon into a tight-sealed container such as a pint jar or Tupperware and freeze. Before using, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 3


  1. Posted March 21, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    Freshly homemade pesto is definitely the best, I think once you try it you can never really go back to store bought. I’ve never tried arugula pesto before, so I’m adding this to my to make list!

  2. Kimberly
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Husband & I can’t eat cheese. Any adjustments needed if Parmesan omitted?

  3. Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    Kimberly, Pesto is actually delicious without cheese! Just leave out the parmesan and add a 1/4 cup more walnuts, and perhaps a bit more olive oil if it looks thick. Also, taste it to see if you’d like to add more salt, as parmesan does bring some of the saltiness.

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