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overhead shot of a glass bowl filled with arugula pesto, on a white countertop, surrounded by arugula leaves, 3 small piles of toasted pistachios and 3 lemons

Arugula Pesto

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


This flavor-packed arugula pesto, made with toasted pistachios and lemon juice, is perfect as a sauce for spaghetti, capellini or any type of pasta.

This recipe makes enough pesto for saucing 1 pound of pasta.


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1/3 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted in a dry skillet, cooled (or store bought roasted pistachios - see notes)
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 7 ounces baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more or less depending on the desired consistency
  • 2 ounces (3/4 cup or so) finely grated good quality parmesan cheese such as Parmigiana Reggiano.



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the lemon juice and pulse for a few seconds, to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add additional olive oil for a thinner, creamier pesto sauce.
  4. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese. Use immediately or store in the fridge in a covered container for up to three days.


Using store-bought roasted pistachios - if you can only find 'salted' roasted pistachios, cut back on the salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon.

How to make pasta with arugula pesto: Cook a pound of pasta in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta and put it back into the pot. Add the pesto and toss the pasta to coat, 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.

Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist. Pasta is not included in this nutrition calculation.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 min
  • Category: Sauce/Dip
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: Italian