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Simple Green Pesto with Arugula

We’ve made quite a few pestos over the years—it seems like each box inspires a new variation. We’ve made kale pesto, spinach pesto with hidden white beans, a spicy jalapeño pesto, and even a carrot top version that we incorporated into a homemade pizza. Our latest version was inspired by just-in spring lettuce: arugula.

Not only is pesto a great way to sneak in more of those good greens, but it’s also the one we could throw together any night of the week. Chances are high we, and probably you, too, have arugula and cashews on hand at all times.

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Arugula Pesto

  • Author: Misfits Market
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • 1½ cups arugula
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup roasted cashews
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a blender or food processor, add arugula, basil, garlic, cashews, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 10 cranks of black pepper. Blitz until very smooth. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Transfer pesto into a large bowl.
  2. Heavily salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions or until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before straining. Transfer pasta into the large bowl with pesto and ¼ cup of pasta water. Toss vigorously until fully coated and glossy.
  3. Divide among bowls, top with more Parmesan cheese, and serve.


Any leafy green will work here, but the arugula adds a nice, mild spiciness. Plus, using mostly arugula and cashews in place of extra basil and pine nuts makes this sauce more cost-effective.

Is basil pesto the same as green pesto?

Basil pesto and green pesto are indeed one and the same. Both are usually made with basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, and, of course, garlic! The basil leaves give it a beautiful emerald color and an herby flavor. Pesto tastes great with pasta, pizza, bread, and meaty mains. A red version of pesto can also be made with vine-ripened tomatoes instead of basil. Pesto is at its best and brightest in the summer when most of its ingredients are in season.