Spicy Arugula Pesto




A quick and easy arugula pesto to complement the traditional basil pesto of summer.

Arugula adds a unique and welcome bite to pesto, the perfect addition to a fresh pasta, pizza or spread on a sandwich. Abundant in the spring, or early fall (depending on where you live), pesto is a great way to use up the rest of your arugula greens when you've maxed out on salads.

Step 1: Ingredients & Materials

You'll need the following:

  • 3 Cups Arugula
  • 1/2 Cup Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3-6 Cloves Garlic
  • 3/8 Cups Nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Food Processor (not pictured)
  • Rubber Spatula (not pictured)
  • Storage Containers (not pictured)

Note: Pesto ingredient ratios vary from recipe to recipe. This is a combination that I like, but every batch is different. Get creative. Don't be afraid to add or subtract or even substitute for the ingredients above--as an example: You like a drier pesto? Add less olive oil. Make it your own.

Step 2: Wash and Prepare

You can make your pesto creating experience easier later on by preparing a couple of your ingredients, arugula and garlic, now.

For your Greens:

Wash your arugula under cold water. Dry either with a salad spinner or blot dry with a paper towel.

For your Garlic:

Peel the skins from your garlic. (For help with this step, see step 3 in this Instructable)

Step 3: Grind Garlic and Nuts

Add your garlic and nuts of choice to your food processor. Blend until the nuts and garlic are roughly equal in size. This is also a good time to add a small amount of pepper and salt. Although be careful, arugula can have a bite on it's own. You can always add more salt and pepper later.

You can also add one Tablespoon of your olive oil if you feel like a little lubrication will help the chopping of your garlic and nuts.

Step 4: Arugula

Add your freshly washed arugula to your nut and garlic mixture. Pour in your remaining olive oil. Pulse/blend/puree until your pesto reaches the desired consistency.

Step 5: Get Cheesy

Now for everyone's favorite, the cheese! Cheese adds a smooth, creamy texture to your pesto. It also has the ability to cut the "sharp" bite that some fresh greens bring to any pesto.

I chose to use parmesan cheese, but you can of course experiment with other cheeses. Aged cheeses are usually preferred, but I could also see a fresh ricotta for a pesto that is being served immediately. Add your cheese to your food processor. Scrape the sides of your food processor with a rubber spatula to insure a thorough mixing. Blend/pulse until uniformly mixed. Taste, and add more salt and pepper to your liking.

TIP: There is an ongoing discussion about whether or not to add cheese to pesto before or after freezing. In my experience the drier and older the cheese, the less the freezer time will effect your pesto. Along those same lines, if you are adding a fresh or wetter cheese to your pesto, it may become grainy in your freezer and is best to add it after you have thawed your stored pesto. I've also found that pesto doesn't last for too long at my place, so I tend to add the cheese before storing it.

Step 6: Serve or Store

Presto you've got fresh pesto!

Use your rubber spatula to scrape all of your pesto into your storage container of choice. Keep it fresh in the fridge to enjoy or freeze it for a later date! Your pesto should stay good up to 6 months in your freezer.

My personal favorite: spread your fresh arugula pesto on a toasted piece of olive bread.



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    10 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Baking Italian-style bread can be easy or complicated. Dough is made with more water than "normal" breads, and it is leaven for much longer and with less yeast. So for the uninitiated it is messy and takes too long.

    However, there is a "pane senza impasto" that works (almost) every time, and all you need are a fridge, a clay or cast iron baking mold, and a very hot oven. Speaking of which, I often trigger a thermostat in attempts to make my oven very hot, so try your oven's limits first.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't make the bread. It was a local bakery. But now, I'm working on it. Keep your eyes out for an instructable coming soon, I'd love to know how to make a decent olive bread!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    This is similar to Italian 'salsa verde' which is made with parsley, with a couple anchovy fillets as an option. It is served with 'bollito', slow cooked succulent beef. I use chuck.

    I have a little suggestion for you, try with basil, parsley, crush it everything in a mortar with a one tooth of garlic, and parmesan cheese with a little bit of nutmeg, plus sunflower oil and voil√°: Argentinian Pesto.... greetings from Chaco, Argentina.

    1 reply

    Great suggestions! I've definitely played around with adding either basil or parsley to pestos before and have like the results. I'll have to try nutmeg and the combination overall. Thank you!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Oooooooh pretty

    Definitely going to give this a go during the weekend :D