Arugula (or any green) Pesto

Recipe from Martha Rose Shulman

Pesto isn’t just for basil! The word "pesto" is the past tense of the Genoese verb "pestare," which means "to crush.” So you can crush any green to make pesto (arugula, spinach, radish greens, turnip greens, kale, and more), or you can mix and match greens and herbs, like parsley and arugula. Pesto isn’t just for pasta either - use with any grain, add to soups or pizza, or use as a topping for fresh or cooked vegetables. It’s great on its own, spooned onto a thick slice of country bread.

Don’t eat cheese? Try this recipe instead! Don’t like raw garlic? Toast your garlic like in this recipe.


2 garlic cloves, cut in half
2 heaped tablespoons shelled walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, or other nuts
4 ounces arugula (2 cups of leaves, tightly packed), stemmed, washed and dried
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed
⅓ to ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
2 teaspoons of lemon juice


Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. When they are chopped and adhering to the sides, stop the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the nuts. Turn on the machine, and process until they are finely ground. Scrape down the bowl again, and add the arugula and the salt. Pulse until the arugula is finely chopped, then turn on the machine and run while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. When the mixture is smooth, stop the machine, add lemon juice, scrape down the sides and process for another 30 seconds or so. Scrape out into the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind the mixture with the pestle for a smoother texture. Work in the cheese and combine well.

Advance preparation: Cover the top with a film of olive oil, and this will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.