Arugula Pesto Over Pasta

The other morning my friend and I were gabbing about our current unhealthy (healthy!) obsession with greens. I am currently in love with kale. In everything. My friend, on the other hand, says her family has just about had it with the abundance of arugula coming through her kitchen. Every meal. This got me thinking … maybe, just for a day, I would give my family a little bit of a break from the kale and switch over to a new green. Why not a little arugula?


Arugula is in season all over the south right now. It is one of our amazing cool weather crops. Arugula is absolutely tasty in salad or on a sandwich but I wanted to make something a little bit more substantial for dinner. My kiddos were begging me for some pasta and I just happened to have some delicious gluten-free spinach raviolis in the freezer so it looked like they might be in luck… Spinach raviolis topped with arugula pesto. Yum. Super yum.

The secret to amazing pesto … 

Pesto is generally made with basil. A lot of basil. When I need to keep my kids busy, I send them out into the garden to pick 100 leaves of basil. (If that doesn’t take them long enough, I have them sort the basil into piles of 10…) Pesto often includes pine nuts. I never have pine nuts on hand but I usually have walnuts so I just do a little switcheroo and it’s delicious. The other major ingredients in pesto are garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. That’s it. Couldn’t be easier. Combine everything in a food processor until it looks like pesto. Done.

The explicit instructions …


2 cups arugula (no stems)
1/2 cup walnuts
4 or 5 cloves of garlic (or less)
1/2 cup olive oil (or more)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated is best but whatever you’ve got will be fine
Freshly ground salt and pepper


Combine the arugula, walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in your food processor. Pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides and decide if you need to add some more olive oil or additional salt. (I always need to add more olive oil.)  Add the parmesan cheese. Pulse again. Taste test.

Making dinner … 

Arugula Pesto

A little bit of pesto goes a long way! For dinner, I prepared my gluten-free raviolis in boiling water and then transferred them to a pan. I spooned the pesto over the top of the raviolis and turned the heat to medium, trying to coat the raviolis well with the pesto. Cooking the pesto for a couple of minutes with the pasta absolutely transforms very good pesto into amazing pesto. Lick-the-pan amazing pesto. Serve hot. This pasta and pesto technique will work well with ANY pasta your family loves.

After dinner … 

There will be leftover pesto. Put the pesto in a small container and keep it in the fridge. It will be good for the week. As I use the leftover pesto, I usually thin it out a little with a touch of olive oil. You can spread the arugula pesto on your sandwich, use it in a grilled cheese, or serve it over eggs. Enjoy!

Looking for Gluten-Free Raviolis in Charlotte?? You must check out From Scratch. Amanda DeVivo is the chef and owner. She is a rockstar. Her gluten-free food is amazing! Raviolis, focaccia, dinner rolls, and, close your eyes if you don’t live in NC, DONUTS! Fresh, Saturday morning donut delivery. Check out her website, place an order, and let me know what you think!

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Erin Brighton

I am a native New Englander now living in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina and enjoying summers in sea-breezy Scituate, Massachusetts with my five small kids and two large dogs. I love to cook easy, local, and gluten-free for friends and family.

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