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Homemade Arugula Pesto

Homemade Arugula Pesto

I made SO MUCH pesto trying to figure out how to make what my family would consider the ‘perfect’ pesto. I started with a Basic Pesto Recipe I found in the New York Times’ Cooking section, found tons of tweaks and suggestions in the comments, and went to work. I ended up with this recipe: my Homemade Arugula Pesto.

A bastardized version of the traditional Italian Pesto Genovese, I used basil, parsley, and arugula for a rounded flavor, and added garlic, savory and nutty parm, and pecorino, along with a splash of lemon juice to highlight the notes in the basil. I also toasted the pine nuts – definitely do that, don’t skip it! I made it loose enough to nicely coat pasta (served alongside my Garlic Parmesan Chicken), so if you’d like a thicker pesto to use as a spread reduce the olive oil by about one-fourth of a cup.

Homemade Arugula Pesto

Homemade Arugula Pesto Ingredients

Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Homemade Arugula Pesto recipe:

  • Basil, Arugula, Italian parsley: As mentioned above, pesto is usually made with basil only. I saw some commenters on NYT site mention adding parsley and other herbs and thought arugula would also be amazing! I found out quickly I was not the only person to think that when I scrolled down and read a few more comments.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: This is one of those recipes where you want to choose high-quality olive oil. The taste is important, as it makes up a very large portion of the Homemade Arugula Pesto recipe.
  • Pine nuts: Pine nuts can be hard to find and are very expensive, especially if you opt for sustainably sourced brands. Walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts are all good substitutes from what I’ve read, but I’ve only ever used pine nuts. You’ll want to toast your pinenuts. I like to do this is a skillet over medium heat, tossing and stirring them frequently until they’re slightly browned and fragrant, about 7 minutes. You can also do this in a 350°F oven.
  • Pecorino Romano, aged parmesan: Technically you’ll want Parmigiano-Reggiano, not aged parmesan, but if you can’t find it, aged parmesan will do just fine. Combined with pecorino it adds a savory, salty nuttiness to the Homemade Arugula Pesto.
  • Garlic, lemon juice: Extra flavor. The lemon heightens the herbaceousness.
  • Kosher salt, cracked black pepper: Depending on how salty your cheese is and how sensitive your tastebuds are, you might not need any extra salt. Don’t skip the pepper.
Homemade Arugula Pesto pasta with chicken

How to Make Homemade Arugula Pesto 

Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Homemade Arugula Pesto recipe:

  • Pulse like your life depends on it! OK, that’s a bit hyperbolic. Add the greens, pine nuts, cheeses, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the bowl of your blender or food processor. Pulse in 5-second pulses until most of the ingredients are broken down into a paste.
  • Emulsify. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then turn the motor onto high. Slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil into the bowl. Let blend for about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust for salt as needed. Dassit! You’ve got Homemade Arugula Pesto.

Obligatory Pinterest pin – 

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Homemade Arugula Pesto

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  • Author: María
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


You’ll want to reduce the olive oil if you like a thicker pesto.


  • 2 C basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 C arugula
  • 1/2 C Italian parsley
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 C pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 C Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 1/4 C aged Parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper


  1. Add all of the ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor or blender. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and a thick paste is beginning to form.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the food processor or blender vessel, then turn it on high. Slowly pour the olive oil into the vessel until all of it has been added. Continue blending on high for 30 seconds. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed. Dassit!


  • Prep Time: 5
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