Arugula pesto without pine nuts is a simpler and more economical version of the classic green pesto. It is packed with flavor and elevates any meal you serve it with.
5 reasons to make green pesto from scratch
- Only 5 ingredients
- Quick prep – You only need 5 minutes to make it!
- Better than store-bought
- It’s good for you – no preservatives, no coloring added, nutrient-rich
- Customizable – add more arugula, less cheese, more oil,…
How to make arugula pesto with cashew nuts
To make this homemade pesto you will need 5 ingredients: arugula, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan, garlic & cashew nuts.
Combine everything but the cheese in a food processor until you get a smooth-ish paste. For a crunchier texture, process less, for smoother, process more.
Finally, stir in the cheese and you are ready to serve (full instructions with quantities in the recipe card below).
Frequently asked questions:
Grana Padano or Pecorino are the best substitutes.
Yes! Pine nuts will 100% work here. This recipe was developed with cashews simply because they are cheaper and easily available in stores. Walnuts are another economical alternative.
Homemade pesto taste best when enjoyed right away or within a few days. Now that being said, you can freeze it for later use, if you like. The easiest way is to fill an ice cube tray and pop out as many as needed.
Dietary & allergy information
- Contains cheese & nuts
- Naturally gluten-free
What to do with pesto?
Noodles – Pasta with pesto is the easiest dinner recipe you can make. Any kind from spaghetti, tagliatelle, to penne, bow-tie,… will work.
Casseroles – add a few spoonfuls to your noodle or chicken casserole for extra flavor
Appetizers – arugula pesto goes so well with canapes or crostini
Chicken – use it to stuff chicken breast
Pizza – instead of pizza sauce
Soups – try adding a little to your creamy chicken and orzo soup for an extra flavor
Expert tips for making green pesto from scratch:
- To lower calories or for a dairy-free version, omit the cheese.
- Another great option is serving the cheese separately (when serving it over pasta) so that everyone can add as much as they like.
- Pesto will last up to a week when stored properly in a sealed jar. Take it out and bring to room temperature before serving.
- To make a larger batch, simply double this arugula pesto recipe. Note that if you are using a small food processor, you will need to make it in batches. To make 1 batch, your processor should be able to fit at least 3 cups of liquid in.
- Extra virgin olive oil varies from brand to brand. Some have spicier taste than others. If you prefer a milder taste, use regular cooking olive oil instead. Don’t substitute with other oils.
More homemade pesto recipes using various herbs and nuts:
- Basil pesto
- Parsley pesto – using walnuts makes it a more economical alternative to the Italian classic.
- Red pepper pesto
Check out our video for how to make arugula pesto:
This is an old post that has been updated recently. The recipe is inspired by a recipe from an old copy of a food magazine.
- 3 cups fresh arugula leaves (50-60 grams)
- ½ cup cashew nuts (60 grams)
- 1 garlic clove , see note 1
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (100 milliliters)
- ½ cup parmesan cheese , finely shredded , see note 2
- In a food processor, combine arugula, cashew nuts, garlic and olive oil. Process until smooth-ish.
- Stir in Parmesan.
- You can add more garlic if you like.
- I used Parmesan powder – if you can get your hands on a good-quality one, then use it. If not, it’s better to shred it yourself. A cheaper alternative is Grana Padano and saltier alternative is Pecorino.
- I used dry measuring cups to measure out all the ingredients.
- This recipe can be easily doubled.
- Store in a jar with lid in the fridge for up to a week. Pesto is best enjoyed fresh, but freezing is possible: – fill an ice cube tray and use in soups, sauces, on pizza…
- More tips, other pesto recipes and serving suggestions can be found in the post above this recipe card.