This arugula pesto (rocket pesto) recipe is so easy to make with a slightly peppery kick. Use it on pasta, eggs, sandwiches, pizza, and more! This versatile sauce is dairy free with a nut free option.
Arugula, as it's called in the United States or rocket as it's called in other countries, is a leafy green vegetable with a slightly bitter, peppery flavor. It's just one of the many homemade pesto variations you can make along with red pesto, zucchini pesto, cilantro pesto, and walnut basil pesto.
This arugula pesto recipe is a great way to use up any leafy green or fresh herbs and is a great example of how in just a few simple steps, you can create a delicious sauce with minimal effort for an easy weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
This recipe uses a mix of fresh ingredients and pantry staples. Here's what you'll need:
- Arugula/wild rocket leaves - have a spicy, peppery, slightly bitter taste.
- Fresh basil leaves - while arugula/rocket could be the main ingredient of this vegan pesto, using all arugula can be too bitter/spicy for some people's palettes, so the addition of fresh basil gives it a more balanced taste with a hint of that classic pesto flavor.
- Shallot - this gets lightly cooked to take the raw edge off and give is a more delicate flavor. It's also a nice alternative to raw garlic cloves that can often taste too harsh or bitter.
- Fresh lemon juice - adds brightness and helps to balance out the flavors including reducing the amount of bitterness. You can also use the lemon zest if you like a really lemony flavor.
- Macadamia nuts - these have a similar texture to pine nuts and a smooth, buttery flavor.
- Nutritional yeast - because this recipe is dairy-free, this adds umami that you'd typically get from parmesan cheese in traditional basil pesto.
- Extra virgin olive oil - use good quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- Pinch of salt - to taste.
How to Make Arugula Pesto
Step 1. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the diced shallot until translucent.
Step 2. Add the cooked shallot to the bowl of a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3. Blend until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.
Step 4. Adjust the seasoning, adding more fresh lemon juice or salt to taste.
Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations
Please remembers that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this arugula pesto using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- No fresh basil? - use all arugula/rocket or another fresh herb such as cilantro, dill, mint, or parsley (parsley or dill would be the mildest).
- No shallot? - leek, green onions, or garlic can also be used.
- No macadamia nuts? - use almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, or cashews.
- Nut-free? - use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use it as a pasta sauce, in a pizza wrap, on toast, stuffed peppers, eggs, or stirred into creamy polenta. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for smashed potatoes or spread it onto zucchini pancakes. The options are endless.
It's best stored in a tightly sealed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to one week or a couple of months in the freezer.
To freeze, add the pesto to an ice cube tray. I love silicone ice cube trays for easy removal. Once they're frozen, easily pop them out and add them to a tightly sealed container or freezer-safe bag until ready to use.
More Sauce Recipes
Arugula Pesto (Rocket Pesto)
- Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the diced shallot until translucent.
- Add the cooked shallot to the bowl of a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
- Blend until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Adjust the seasoning, adding more fresh lemon juice or salt to taste.