Arugula basil pesto sauce is made with a combination of two leafy greens to make a unique and zesty sauce that pairs perfectly with pasta, veggies, sandwiches and so much more!
If you love bright, fresh flavors and easy to make sauces, then you are in for a treat! This arugula and basil pesto has a peppery kick from the arugula and a sweet flavor from the basil. It's made with just a handful of ingredients and comes together in minutes!
For a more traditional pesto sauce recipe, try this basil pesto with cashews.
What is pesto?
Traditional pesto is a bright green sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy many, many years ago. It is typically made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, fresh Parmesan and olive oil, but today there are many variations.
You can use any green or combination of greens to make pesto. Think spinach, chard, asparagus, broccoli, a mixture of fresh herbs and you can even go beyond green if you like.
You can read more about what pesto tastes like and how to use it here.
Why you will🤍this recipe
- It's a simple recipe made with simple ingredients.
- Pesto is a versatile sauce with so many uses.
- It's healthy, made with fresh basil and fresh arugula.
Here is what you will need
This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this recipe; scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions.
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- Baby arugula
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Food processor
How to make this basil arugula pesto recipe
Prepare the ingredients: shred the parmesan cheese, rinse and dry the baby arugula and basil leaves. Rough chop the garlic cloves.
Place the arugula, basil, walnuts and cheese into the bowl of a food processor.
Blend the ingredients into a thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl of the food processor. Cover it and gradually add the oil and adjust the texture of the pesto with water until it is similar texture to a thin paste or to your personal preference.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
The complete list of ingredients to make this recipe is above. Below are notes about some of the ingredients, along with ideas for substitutes.
Since pesto is not cooked, it is important to use fresh and good quality and fresh ingredients if you can.
Baby arugula - This adds a peppery flavor to this pesto sauce and it can be replaced with an equal amount of baby spinach which will take away the peppery flavor.
Garlic - Fresh garlic is always best especially since this sauce is not cooked. If you don't have fresh garlic you can substitute it with chopped garlic in a jar or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder.
Olive oil - I highly recommend extra virgin olive oil in pesto sauce for its flavor. If you don't have olive oil, any neutral tasting oil such as avocado oil will work but the flavor might be a bit different.
Walnuts - Add a nice texture and protein to the pesto sauce. They can be substituted with an equal amount of cashew nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.
How to serve arugula basil pesto
Serve this homemade pesto over your favorite pasta, brush it onto grilled vegetables or meat, spread it on your favorite homemade pizza crust, drizzle it over fresh tomatoes, stir it into hummus or yogurt for a flavorful dip. It also tastes great as a sandwich spread, or added to your favorite pasta sauce.
How to store leftovers
Leftover pesto sauce will last in an airtight mason jar or any small jar in the refrigerator for up to three days. To serve, remove it from the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before using to allow for the olive oil to come to room temperature.
How to freeze fresh pesto
You can also freeze leftover pesto sauce for up to 6 months. A great way to freeze it is to freeze it in individual portions so you can add the cubes to sauces to flavor them. Ice cube trays or cupcake molds are perfect for this. Once the pesto is frozen in the mold, remove it and store the cubes in a freezer container.
If you love pesto, try this asparagus pesto!
Arugula pesto sauce - Leave out the basil and use 4 cups of arugula in place of the basil.
Vegan arugula pesto - Replace the parmesan cheese with an equal amount of nutritional yeast or vegan cheese.
Add more veggies - Try adding ½ cup of sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers to the food processor.
- Pesto is quick to make, start boiling the water for the pasta before you start making the pesto sauce.
- Save some of the pasta water and adjust the texture of the sauce with the pasta water.
- If you prefer a more mild garlic flavor; roast it in the oven before adding it to the sauce.
Linguine, angel hair or any pasta that has ridges so that the sauce sticks to it such as penne, rigatoni, shells or fusilli.
Sometimes pesto can turn bitter if it has been over blended. If this happens, try adding a splash of water or fresh lemon juice.
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Click on serving size to scale this recipe
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 1 cup basil
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup walnuts shelled and chopped
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- Place ½ cup walnuts, 1 clove garlic and ½ cup Parmesan cheese into the bowl of a food processor and process until all ingredients are blended together.
- Add 3 cups baby arugula and 1 cup basil - pulse until the leaves have broken up.
- Gradually add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil while the processing.
- Adjust consistency by adding water.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
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