Arugula, Basil, & Almond Pesto
Updated: Mar 18
I've been a pesto lover since I was a kid. I mean really, what's not to love. It's great with pasta, as a dip, on pizza, or on your finger as you're taking it out of the Cuisinart... Regardless of how you enjoy it, you can now make it at home with this super fast, inexpensive, and easy recipe. (Seriously, it only takes about 5 minutes to make and consists of 8 easy to find ingredients.) It's also really versatile because it tastes great both hot and cold.
One trick I've discovered while making pesto over the years is to use almond meal (aka almond flour) instead of whole almonds. Believe me, it will make your life SO much easier and it makes a much smoother, clump-less pesto. Additionally, I've realized that I mostly prefer using arugula (with a smaller ratio of basil) because it adds a great additional dimension of flavor and means I won't pick my basil plants clean for one batch of pesto. Not to mention, arugula is always available at the market and is far less expensive than basil.
On another note, you may be wondering why this recipe is vegan, since pesto classically has parmesan cheese in it. Well, I'll tell you why-Asher is allergic to dairy. This means I often adapt recipes to be dairy-free, and since this recipe has no other animal products in it, it just so happens to be vegan too! Honestly, as the world's foremost cheese lover and a person who would put cheese on literally everything if it were socially acceptable, I have to say, this recipe doesn't even really need the cheese. Trust me, it's just as good without it.(note: this is probably the only time you will ever hear me say that something's better without cheese. Also, you better believe I nearly wrote 'it's just as gouda without it' because I'm just as much a fan of bad puns as I am of cheese, but I decided against it.)
Well, without further ado, let's make this lovely green Italian concoction! (Printable recipe at the end of the post.)
The good stuff: arugula (rocket), basil, almond meal (I buy mine at Trader Joes, but you can generally get it in the bulk section of your local supermarket), lemon, garlic, olive oil (I use extra virgin, but regular is fine too), and optional pasta (I like using Barilla's veggie rotini for this recipe because it adds some extra flavor, takes to the sauce nicely, and gives you that extra serving of daily veggies.)
First, measure out the arugula and basil, and get all of your ingredients set up. You'll need 2 packed cups of arugula and a packed 1/4 cup of basil.
Next, toss the basil, arugula, and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil into your food processor and blend until all of the greenery looks roughly chopped.
I love to use my mini 4 cup Cuisinart food processor for this recipe because it's the perfect size for the ingredients, however if you don't have a food processor you can also use a blender. Heed my warning though, taking the pesto out of a blender at the end can be tough (especially if your blender doesn't come apart at the bottom.)
Once your basil, arugula, and oil are blended, add in 1 heaping cup of almond meal, the juice of half a medium lemon, 1 tsp of kosher salt, pepper to taste, and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Blend until smooth and thoroughly combined. (If the pesto is too dense for your liking, feel free to add a little more olive oil.)
*NOTE: If you're turning this into pasta sauce like I did, add an extra 1/2 tsp of salt. If you prefer your sauce looser on your pasta, you can also reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water and add it in small increments while stirring it together with the noodles.
Voila! All done. Now you get to devour all of that pesto-y goodness and impress your friends.
ARUGULA, BASIL, ALMOND PESTO (VEGAN)
Time: 10 mins
2 cups arugula (packed)
1/4 cup basil (packed)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 medium lemon
1 large garlic clove (crushed)
1 heaping cup almond meal / almond flour
1 tsp kosher salt (add extra 1/2 tsp salt if using as pasta sauce)
pepper to taste
*optional – 1/3 cup pasta water if using as pasta sauce
Place arugula, basil, and olive oil in food processor. Blend until greens are roughly chopped (approx. 20 seconds).
Add in salt, pepper, lemon juice, almond meal, and crushed garlic. Blend until smooth and thoroughly combined. You will notice the pesto lighten in color and thicken as you’re blending, which is perfect. (*add extra 1/2 tsp of salt and reserved pasta water if using as a sauce, or extra olive oil if you prefer a looser dip)
Serve and enjoy!