Arugula Pesto: Pasta, Sandwich, Appetizer

Last weekend I came across an old Saveur article on different types of pestos. I had only ever had the basil-based Pesto Genovese and had been hesitant to try any other type because I could not imagine anything beating a basil pesto. Well, I was wrong to resist trying other versions because I made an arugula pesto last weekend, and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I used the pesto to make three different dishes over the course of the week - a pasta, a sandwich, and a crostini appetizer. 

Basil pestos are only really for summer meals, because it is hard (and expensive) to find basil in grocery stores at any other time in the year. The arugula pesto is the perfect alternative - you can find arugula in the salad section of the grocery store in any season and it is cheaper than buying the large quantities of basil that you generally need for pesto. Plus, the arugula adds a peppery taste to the sauce and the lemon zest makes it tangy and light, which is a great change from normal pesto. 

On Sunday night I made the following arugula pesto recipe (adapted from Saveur) and served it over spaghetti with parmigiano and black pepper:

Arugula Pesto
- 2 cups arugula (packed down)
- 1/4 of basil (optional)
- 1 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1/3 toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste

Toast the pine nuts with a little it of olive oil in a pan until they are lightly brown. Put aside. In a blender or food processor add all the ingredients, adding the olive oil as needed until the ingredients are finely blended together. Season with salt and pepper and serve over pasta. 

Then, on Monday, I used the pesto to make a Portobello, Ricotta and Pesto Sandwich: 

- Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- part-skim ricotta cheese (or goat cheese)
- arugula pesto
- grated parmigiano reggiano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp. olive oil

Heat the olive oil and add the garlic and shallot. After a few minutes, when the shallot is starting to soften, add the mushrooms and sauté until softened and cooked through. 

In a small dish mix a few tablespoons of ricotta cheese with grated parmigiano and black pepper to give the ricotta a little bit of taste (note, I did not have goat cheese in my house at the time, but goat cheese would be a great too, I just didn't have any in the house).

Toast the bread and add the pesto, ricotta, mushrooms, and fresh arugula. Add pepper and serve. 

Finally, on Tuesday I ended up using the rest of the arugula pesto as an appetizer before dinner by serving as Goat Cheese and Arugula Pesto Crostini:

-arugula pesto
- shaved parmigiano reggiano
- fresh arugula
- softened goat cheese
- fresh bread, toasted

Toast the bread and spread the goat cheese and pesto on top. Add the arugula and sprinkle the shaved parmigiano reggiano on top. Add some black pepper and serve!


  1. Hi Jules....thanks for submitting your photo to DMBLGiT January 2013. Your photo has been added to the gallery. Wishing you good luck !

  2. Just beautiful! I am impressed by how smooth you get your on the pasta.Thanks for sharing this recipe it’s delicious!

  3. My problem is adjusting for teenagers that eat ALOT. However, thinking of the 3 components helps so much. Thanks again.

  4. Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing this recipe it’s delicious!