Homemade Arugula Pesto

baby arugula

Think of this post as less of a recipe post (after all, it’s pesto, not rocket science) and more of an idea post—sharing something I’ve made in my kitchen recently and been able to use in a number of subsequent dishes.

garlic cloves

Often times, our energy in the kitchen is spent laboring over a single dish, enjoyed only in the moment, and possibly in the form of leftovers the following day.

That is exactly why I love pesto so much.  It can be used in so many ways.  It can be a dish unto itself, but also enhance even the simplest of dishes, making them that much more special.  While I have a personal affinity to traditional pesto made with basil, this is my new favorite alternative.  Not only is fresh baby arugula incredibly easy to find, even during these cold winter months, it also comes pre-washed, which as we all know is the most time consuming part of making pesto anyway.

arugula pesto ingredients

Pesto is the simplest of sauces, but probably one of the most versatile.  Tossed with some fresh or boxed pasta, you have the quickest of weeknight meals…

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My personal favorite ways to use pesto, include stirring it into freshly scrambled eggs in the morning, dolloping it onto homemade pizza, and spreading it onto freshly baked bread for your next sandwich or grilled cheese.  You really can’t go wrong. 

grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Other ideas, just to name a few, include adding a spoonful to your favorite vinaigrette or hummus dip, using as a garnish on vegetable or slow cooker winter vegetable soup, or simply as an add-in to your favorite homemade meatballs.

You could even toss it with roasted winter vegetables or stir into your favorite mashed potatoes for a nice side dish!  Is anyone else getting hungry? 

Without further ado, here’s the recipe! 

homemade arugula pesto

baby arugula pesto

Homemade Arugula Pesto

Yield: 1 Cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated manchego cheese
  • 1/4 grated grano padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese (feel free to use just one cheese or the other, if necessary)
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a food processor, pulse garlic clove several times until roughly minced.
  2. Add lemon juice, pine nuts, olive oil, and arugula and continue to pulse until mixture becomes smooth.
  3. Remove mixture to separate bowl and fold in cheese.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pesto can be stored in refrigerator for 2-3 days. If freezing, make pesto without the cheese, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and it can last for up to a month—defrost overnight and add cheese right before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 238mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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