Arugula pesto is a 5-minute pesto recipe made with fresh arugula, parmesan cheese, walnuts, olive oil, and lemon. This nutty, zesty, sweet, peppery spread will soon become your favorite, year-round pesto. It’s low carb, gluten-free, and utterly scrumptious!
Arugula Pesto with Walnuts
This super easy pesto is one of the first arugula recipes to appear here on The Kitchen Girl blog in 2014. My unshakeable obsession with this scrumptious spread dates all the way back to my college days!
It’s fresh, easy, affordable, and delicious on EVERYTHING! My favorite way to eat it is straight from the spoon. If I’m being more civilized though, I’ll spread it over crostini or tossed with tortellini pasta salad or in soup.
Arugula Pesto Ingredients:
- fresh arugula
- extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper
- water (as needed to adjust consistency)
- fresh lemon juice
* See full recipe below
Feel free to adapt these ingredients to your liking. We’re pretty confident that if you like flavor, you’ll love this combination!
How is arugula pesto different from basil pesto?
1. The flavors are quite different, actually. Arugula pesto is nutty from the walnuts, sweet and salty from the parmesan, and peppery from the arugula. I literally eat this stuff right off the spoon! I can’t do that with basil pesto as it tends to be too bitter for that.
2. The pureed textures are pretty much identical with both pestos, especially since the ingredients are so similar.
3. The preparation is identical. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender, which yields a similar texture.
4. The ingredients are almost identical except basil pesto is made with basil. Also, I always use walnuts instead of pine nuts. You can use either, but I prefer the flavor of walnuts…and you save money!
5. Arugula pesto ingredients are always available and always reasonably priced. Basil is expensive when it’s not basil season…and I need my pesto fix every month of the year!
Another unique pesto recipe
My friend Carol over at From a Chef’s Kitchen blog makes a Radish Greens Pesto using fresh radish greens in place of basil. While you could make this pesto any time of the year, it’s especially perfect for the summer months when the garden is going crazy!
How to make arugula pesto
Step 1: Place ingredients into a food processor or blender.
Step 2: Pulse or blend ingredients until well-combined.
Step 3: Add small amounts of water as needed to adjust consistency. (this is one of my pro tips to use less oil…no one has ever complained).
Step 4: Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days. Boom! So easy!
* See full recipe below
How to serve arugula pesto
- dip for vegetables and crackers
- as crostini topping
- marinade for chicken, fish, and seafood
- omelet ingredient
- sandwich condiment
- pasta sauce
- pizza topping
Arugula Pesto Storage tips
Refrigerate pesto in an airtight container and enjoyed within 3-5 days. Naturally, the fresher, the better, but I think it’s most optimal on day 2 and day 3.
Can I freeze pesto?
Yes, it freezes nicely! You can do one of two things:
1) Place pesto in ice cube trays, freeze them, pop them out, store in the freezer, and thaw as needed.
2) Store pesto in small containers, freeze and thaw as needed. Storing in smaller containers makes it quicker to thaw.
Does arugula pesto turn brown?
I’ve made this pesto recipe many times and have noticed that, unlike basil pesto, it hardly turns brown. This is mainly because I add lemon to it, which I don’t usually do with basil pesto. You can also blanch arugula or basil for pesto if you don’t want to use lemon.
- 7 cup food processor (fitted with the chopping/mixing dough blade)
- citrus squeezer
- garlic press
- airtight storage containers
More Arugula Recipes
- Citrus Galore Winter Salad
- Savory Sweet Potato Salad
- Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Spiralized Beet and Kale Salad
Other easy dips and spreads
- 5 Minute French Onion Dip
- Loaded Black Bean Dip
- Herb and Artichoke White Bean Dip
- Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing and Dip
- Smoked Salmon Dip with Greek Yogurt
Arugula Pesto Recipe
- 4 cups Arugula same as 3.5 oz
- 1 cup Walnuts
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice optional, but recommended
- 2 cloves Garlic chopped
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water as needed for thinning
- Place ARUGULA, CHEESE, WALNUTS, OLIVE OIL, LEMON, GARLIC, SALT, and PEPPER in a food processor fitted with the dough/chopping blade attachment.
- Pulse or blend until all ingredients are well-combined.
- Add water in small amounts to adjust consistency.
- Store in airtight containers up to five days in the refrigerator and up to 90 days in the freezer.