Arugula pesto

Arugula pesto

This is basil pesto’s quieter cousin. Where basil pesto is tangy, arugula pesto is delicate. And that’s surprising, because fresh arugula is bitter and pungent, “skunky” to first-timers. But when it’s ground into a pesto – which comes from the Italian word pestare, to grind – the cheeses, walnuts, and olive oil mellow the bitterness, soften the pungency, and bring out a whole new flavor.

Arugula pesto


3.5 oz (100 g) fresh arugula
1.8 oz (50 g) grated pecorino cheese
1.8 oz (50 g) grated parmesan cheese
1.8 oz (50 g) walnuts
A sliver of garlic (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed


Add the ingredients to a food processor, drizzle with olive oil, and process. You’re done!

Okay, some notes:

Don’t be afraid to glug on the olive oil; if you keep peeking into the food processor to find chunks of walnut and leaves of arugula, it’s probably too dry. Press it down with a spatula, pour in two tablespoons of olive oil, and try again.

Instead of adding garlic (since even that tiny amount comes back to haunt me), saute a whole clove in olive oil while the pasta water is coming to a boil. Remove it, then add the pesto and heat briefly before adding the pasta.

Whole wheat pasta is made for this pesto.

I think a little spritz of lemon right before tossing it with pasta would be perfect. But I haven’t tried it yet, so don’t blame me.

Arugula pesto ingredients


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