Arugula Pesto

This arugula pesto, which is made with walnuts, basil, and Parmesan, is a peppery riff on the classic Italian condiment that comes together in just 10 minutes.

A white bowl partially filled with arugula pesto and a spoon resting in the pesto. A few arugula leaves scattered beside the bowl.

We’ve been smitten with this arugula pesto, a peppery variation on traditional Italian pesto Genovese, since we first made it. Made with walnuts rather than pine nuts and all the usual other suspects, including basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, it’s every iota as versatile as the classic. We always keep a stash of this in the fridge (and when we don’t, we get a little jittery).–Angie Zoobkoff

Arugula Pesto

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 8 (2-tbsp) servings | 1 cup
5/5 - 1 reviews
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In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts until golden brown, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and blend until you’re happy with the consistency.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Originally published September 26, 2009.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I love regular pesto. I've also made a spinach pesto that’s quite good. So I was interested to try this recipe. The recipe comes together quickly and tastes great on pasta. There's enough basil to keep the arugula from being too bitter and sharp.

I did pulse it initially but then ran the food processor, scraping down between.

I served this pesto traditionally but used whole grain pasta and sprinkled it with a bit more cheese to make it look good before serving.

I’ve yet to meet a pesto that I didn’t like and this one didn’t disappoint! I love how versatile this sauce is and it’s always fun experimenting with different nut and herb combinations.

I served this pesto atop grilled chicken burgers and it was excellent! It can be served in so many ways, from pasta to soups and most any grilled meat.

I think that the basil is an important addition because it seems to balance the strong peppery tones of the arugula. The only thing I might consider adding next time is the zest of a lemon. I’ve included this in pesto I’ve made in the past and it provides a great refreshing flavor to the greens.

I combined all of the ingredients except for the olive oil at once and pulsed until I achieved the consistency that I was looking for. I then added the olive oil and pulsed until incorporated. I added about 1 teaspoon coarse salt and a bit of pepper and the end result was quite flavorful!


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  1. Absolutely outstanding. What a superb way to use up late summer languishing arugula (several varieties) from the garden. The addition of fresh basil was spot-on. I always freeze some in small jars-without the Parmesan, which I like to add freshly grated with the pasta..(.and to really guild the lily, some melted butter)….. just phenomenal with fresh gnocchi! Thank you!

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