When life gives you lemons… well, there are a lot of things you can do besides make lemonade. And when life gives you lemons AND arugula, you can make Lemon Arugula Pesto!
Basically, lemon and arugula go together like two peas in a pod. They’re a match made in heaven. Arugula has an awesome peppery flavor, making it similar to an herb, with all the health benefits of leafy greens (it’s a great source of and vitamin K and folates, among other numerous nutrients). When combined, the arugula’s fresh, peppery flavor is enhanced by the brightness of the lemon. So, SO good.
Pesto is one of my favorite ways to use up bunches of fresh herbs or other greens (you can even make pesto from spinach!). I’ve used cilantro to make a cilantro jalapeno pesto, and have dabbled in a traditional basil pesto. The result is always a delicious and fresh sauce to use on pasta, chicken, seafood, steak, or even just spread on toasted bread. Or, eaten plain with a spoon. Yum.
And, it’s super easy to make in only FIVE MINUTES!
You’ll need a food processor. If I were to suggest one all-time super important kitchen utensil to have at home, it’s a food processor (far more important than a blender, if you ask me!). You can make this pesto in 2 minutes with a food processor. You can make peanut butter, FROM SCRATCH with only ONE INGREDIENT in FOUR MINUTES, with a food processor. Salsa, hummus, and all kinds of sauces and dips can easily be made at home with a food processor. Making these things from scratch enables you to control the ingredients going in, making them much healthier (and less expensive) than other store-bought alternatives.
In summary, go buy a food processor if you don’t have one (I have this Cuisinart one and I love it)!
The other beauty of making things in a food processor: you don’t have to prep anything by chopping it, since the food processor does all the work for you!
To make this pesto, just add some arugula, a small garlic clove (since raw garlic is very potent, you don’t want too much), lemon zest and a little bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t want it spicy), and some almonds to the food processor.
A note about the almonds: traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but I like using almonds as a substitute because they are cheaper. You can use any nut- pistachios, walnuts… go NUTS! HAH!
Turn the food processor on, and while it is running, drizzle in about a half of a cup of olive oil. When you add the oil while the machine is running, it helps bind everything together so the pesto doesn’t separate.
At this point, you can add some parmesan, Romano, or cotija cheese… or not! I always find that pesto is flavorful enough without added cheese. But since I had leftover cotija from Mexican risotto and tacos the other night, I went ahead and added it. If you choose to not use cheese, I recommend adding a bit more salt.
Blitz the pesto for just another few seconds with the cheese, and that’s it! You’re done!
FIve Minute Lemon Arugula Pesto
- Food Processor
- 2 cups baby arugula packed
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1/2 cup almonds Sliced, slivered, or whole. Pine nuts, walnuts, or other nuts can also be used!
- juice and zest of one lemon
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper optional
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan Romano, or cotija cheese (optional)
- Add all ingredients except for olive oil and cheese to a food processor.
- Turn food processor on. While it is running, drizzle the olive oil (1/2 cup) in gradually.
- Once the ingredients are well blended and pesto looks smooth, uncover and add cheese, if using. Pulse to combine.
- Serve spread on toast, mixed with pasta, on cooked grilled chicken or steak- or eat with a spoon!
- Store pesto in your fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.
- Traditional parmesan cheese may not be suitable for a strict vegetarian diet because it contains animal rennet. Look for a suitable vegetarian substitute, such as a parmesan made with plant rennet.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.