How to make green pasta sauce at home

How to make green pasta sauce at home

Move, Basil! We love arugula pesto. Here’s how to make pesto at home in a different green color.

You know pesto as the basil sauce that can top anything from pasta to pizza. But basil isn’t the only green that can go into this bright sauce. Alternatively, you can replace your favorite spicy green salad with an arugula pesto.

What’s in arugula pesto?

Preparing arugula pesto follows the same steps as traditional pesto, but with some modifications to the ingredients.

watercress: First and foremost, instead of raiding your herb garden for bunches of basil, you’ll want to make sure you pick plenty of watercress. This green has a peppery taste that pairs well with pasta, tomatoes, and other Italian ingredients.

Walnuts: You’ll also notice that instead of pine nuts, the arugula pesto uses walnuts. Walnuts are more affordable and add a similar flavor. Of course, if you want to stick with pine, feel free! You can swap out the same amount in this recipe.

Parmesan: Hard cow’s milk cheese is one of the traditional ingredients for pesto. You want freshly grated, not the pickled kind.

garlic: Pesto needs a little fresh garlic. Next, try this garlic pesto recipe.

oil: You can get high-quality, smooth-tasting extra virgin olive oil. Here are our favorite olive oil brands.

Lemon juice: Don’t skip the lemonade! It brightens the flavor of the vegetables and keeps the sauce looking a vibrant green color.

How to make watercress with pesto

How to make arugula pestoTMP Studio


  • 4 cups fresh arugula
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Step 1: Toast the walnuts

Distribute the walnuts evenly on an ungreased tray. Bake at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes, until you begin to smell the bread slightly toasted.

Editor’s tip: Roasting nuts of all kinds adds more depth of flavor. Our test kitchen regularly makes this recommendation in recipes that call for nuts.

Step 2: Pulse ingredients

Next, add the arugula, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt to the bowl of the food processor. Cover and stir until chopped. Then add the cooled walnuts and lemon juice.

Step 3: Drizzle in oil

Finally, extract your favorite extra virgin olive oil. Set the food processor to low speed and slowly add a steady stream of olive oil to the mixture.

If necessary, scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Some people like a super smooth pesto, while others like to see a little texture – either works!

How to use arugula pesto

How to make arugula pestoTMP Studio

Arugula pesto can be used in any recipe that calls for fresh or canned pesto. These recipes with pesto are a great place to start, but keep these applications in mind as well:

  • to retreat: Arugula pesto has a bit of a kick. It makes a great dip for fresh vegetables. If you want a milder flavor, stir fresh pesto into sour cream or softened cream cheese.
  • Infusion: You can also use arugula pesto as a marinade for proteins and veggies. Simply cover your ingredients with the sauce before placing them on the grill or in the oven.
  • Spread: Got crostini? Or pizza? Or crackers? Spread a little pesto on top. You can serve it as is, or top it with prosciutto, burrata, or roasted vegetables.

How to store arugula pesto

If you don’t plan to use the pesto right away, store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

To keep arugula pesto fresh in the refrigerator, place it in an airtight container or Mason jar. Then we pour a little olive oil over it, cover it and leave it in the refrigerator. This layer of oil will prevent the pesto from turning brown. The discolouration will not affect the flavour, but it will mask the vibrant color of this sauce. The sauce will keep this way in the refrigerator for about a week.

If you prefer to store the pesto for later, freeze it. You can freeze small portions in an ice cube tray. Once completely frozen, remove from the tray and store in an airtight container or bag. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the sauce in a freezer-safe container of your choice. Regardless of the method used, arugula pesto will keep for about six months in the refrigerator.

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