Arugula Pesto


The classic Italian basil pesto with extra-virgin olive oil,  garlic, toasted pine nuts and mediterranean sea salt is incomparable.  But what do you do when summer basil disappears from the farmer's market before you've stashed some in the freezer?

Substitute greens!

Basic pesto ratios are easy to remember:

  • two cups greens  
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp toasted nuts
  • 1 tsp salt

You can add the juice of a lime to add some zest, substitute pine nuts with garbanzo beans for a nut-free meal, or throw in some fresh mint when it has overtaken your garden.

When basil is scarce,  substitute another leafy green like kale or arugula (which won't turn dark green like Basil). Try doubling the garlic to compliment the kale or adding a knob of ginger to draw out the peppery flavor of the arugula. 

Always make your pesto the day you acquire your herbs or you will be disappointed by its bruised appearance.

And never make just one batch. Simply withhold the cheese and freeze it in ice-cube trays for future use. It defrosts quickly to be spread on toast or added to eggs. Toss four frozen cubes into a ½ pound of warm pasta along with ½ cup of freshly grated parmesan and some freshly toasted pine nuts for a taste of summer in the dead of winter.


jane beck

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