Arugula makes great pesto. Its bright peppery flavors harmonize beautifully with toasted pistachios, lemon, garlic, and parmesan cheese. It makes a vibrant, delicious sauce for pasta. I developed this arugula pesto recipe at the request of my oldest son Alex, for a special pasta dinner that I’ll tell you about, because it was one of the most amazing dinners of my life.
Trofie with arugula pesto was the first pasta course of our dinner and everyone loved it: tender coils of dough tossed with rich vibrant pesto… I’ve since made the arugula pesto twice and served it once over store-bought thin spaghetti and once with capellini. If you don’t have homemade trofie on hand, you will be very happy with either of those options.
Trofie takes lots of time and skill to make. Each little piece of pasta is hand rolled and then finessed with a knife, to get the special coils.
By the time we sat down to the first course, I was so excited to try the trofie and I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to take a picture. Here’s a photo I took the next day with some leftovers.
Here are all the pastas and sauces we served at our 6-Course Pasta Dinner:
3. Dunderi Giganti – al sugo, fresh basil 4. Butternut Squash Gnocchi – brown butter, sage, speck
I would love to give you every recipe of this dinner and maybe over time I will. For now, I’m excited to share this extremely delicious, quick and easy arugula pesto recipe. Another thing I love about this pesto is that baby arugula is widely available year round. I buy it in plastic boxes at Whole Foods. This recipe uses 1 1/2 of those boxes. It’s pre washed and you don’t even have to remove the stems. Just grind it up in your food processor with cheese, garlic, pistachios, lemon, olive oil salt and pepper. Toss it with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
If you’re interested in making some of the pasta recipes listed above, here are some resources that will help:
These are the two cookbooks Alex used to learn how to make all the pastas and some of the sauces:
Here’s the link to my Turkey Ragu recipe, that we served over the pappardelle pasta, with the fried poached egg on top.
My son Brian made the fried poached eggs. Here’s his recipe: first he poached all 12 eggs, making sure to keep the yolks runny. Then he set up a classic breading station like the one pictured in this post for Chicken Schnitzel. Fist he dipped the poached eggs in seasoned flour to coat them, then he dunked them in a bowl of whisked eggs, then he rolled them in Panko bread crumbs to coat. Then he fried them in a skillet, in about an inch of canola oil.
Here’s the recipe for pistachio arugula pesto with pistachios and lemon. I hope you enjoy! If you make this I hope you’ll come back and let me know how it turned out.
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
- ⅓ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted in a dry skillet, cooled
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 7 ounces baby arugula
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice plus more, to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (2 ounces) finely grated good quality parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle on top (I recommend Parmigiana Reggiano)
- 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water to thin the pesto sauce
- This makes enough pesto for 1 pound of pasta. I recommend serving this with homemade trofie pasta or store-bought capellini or angel hair.
- Put the garlic, toasted pistachios and salt in the bowl of your food processor, fitted with the steel chopping blade. Pulse for 10 seconds or so to a fine chop. Add one third of the arugula and pulse to a rough paste. Repeat twice more with remaining arugula, until everything is combined into a paste. Add the lemon juice and pulse for a few seconds, to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the sauce. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
- Cover and chill up to three days. When ready to use, put the pesto into a large skillet or heavy pot, large enough to hold the pasta.
- Cook the pasta in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water before draining the pasta. Add the pasta to the pot with the pesto and toss over medium-low heat, adding pasta cooking water, a tablespoon at a time, until you get your desired consistency. Season with salt, to taste.
- Serve hot. Pass around extra parmesan cheese.