Spinach Arugula Pesto

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Andrea's Recipes - Spinach arugula pesto

This is our first year growing arugula, and I have to say I’m impressed with how easy it is to grow. We planted it a box in early September, and within three days we had sprouts. It required little maintenance, just watering. One thing we’ve learned in the process is that arugula gets more peppery as it matures. The leaves had a mild peppery flavor early on, but now some of the larger leaves are downright bitter, so balancing the feisty flavor with spinach seemed the way to go for this pesto. The original recipe at Epicurious.com calls for serving on top of grilled hamburgers, which we did, and the combination of the peppery arugula, garlic, and crushed red pepper makes a great topping for hamburgers or vegan burgers paired with grilled onions and Swiss cheese.

Andrea's Recipes - Arugula in a window box

The original recipe calls for quickly wilting the spinach in the microwave, though you could do it in a steamer basket, too. For a time saver, I think the recipe still tastes good when using raw baby spinach.

Grow Your Own logo This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we’ve grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page. Submissions for this round are due on October 30, and you can send your information and photo to me at andreasrecipesgyo AT gmail DOT com.

Other Pesto or Condiment Recipes

More Arugula Recipes From Around the Blogs

Simply Recipes – Toasted Turkey Cranberry Arugula Sandwich

80 Breakfasts – Arugula and Apple Salad

Apartment Therapy – Egg, Arugula, and Herb Tartine

Panini Happy – Red Dragon, Roast Beef, and Arugula Panini

Andrea's Recipes - Arugula, garlic, and crushed red pepper


food processor
large microwave safe bowl or large pan and steamer basket


8 ounces (227 g) baby spinach leaves, rinsed and well-drained
2 cloves garlic, peeled and ends trimmed
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups (packed) (~2.5 ounces/71 g) fresh arugula leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 mil) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt, to taste


1. Cook the rinsed spinach in the microwave for about 60 to 90 seconds, or steam for about 2 minutes in a steamer basket over hot water. Drain well, squeezing all the liquid out with your hands.

2. Process the garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper in the food processor until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the spinach, arugula, pine nuts, and lemon juice, then process until you have a coarse puree.

3. Gradually add the olive oil, pouring in a slow stream while the machine runs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Serve as a topping for grilled hamburgers or vegan burgers.


Source: adapted from Epicurious.com

[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]


  1. says

    Your arugula is so beautiful, Andrea! It’s my fave salad green. I would love to grow my own. Can you tell me where you got your seeds and were they any particular kind? Also, what kind of containers are you using and where did you find them? Also, are there any other “crops” that are not too temperamental that you could recommend to a novice vegetable gardener? All of your produce looks so wonderful! I’ve really got a bee in my bonnet lately!

  2. Victoria says

    Yes, arugula is easy to grow and the rewards are great. I’ve made arugula pesto too and I love it. This one looks great!

  3. says

    Thanks everyone! Susan, my seeds were the Ferry & Morris brand (organic), and I found mine at Wal-Mart, though I’ve seen them at Lowe’s, too. Seeds of Change and Cook’s Garden are good sources for vegetable and herb seeds. We don’t use anything fancy for pots, just the Plant Spa pots from Wal-Mart. I’ve had very good luck with those, and they are inexpensive. The box that the arugula is in is 8 years old.
    For easy gardening, you can’t beat green onions. Just save about 2 inches of the white part with fresh live roots, and plant them in a pot with a good potting mix. They’ll start sprouting new green tops within a week. Most greens and lettuces are pretty easy to grow, though they usually prefer cooler weather; mint, basil, and sage are easy. Oregano and parsley are low maintenance, though they can take some time to sprout. I hope this helps!

  4. says

    Arugula (we call it rocket in England) is one of my favourite salad leaves, I grew my own this year too!

    I never thought of making pesto, what a great idea!

  5. says

    I made some arugula pesto about a week ago, but although it was okay, it just seemed too strong. I’ll try again with some spinach added; great idea.

  6. says

    What a good idea to combine the spinach with the arugula. I have tired of basil in my pesto, and welcome variations. Not only is this recipe super-healthy but the earthiness of the spinach is a perfect balance to the peppery arugula.

  7. says

    This sounds wonderful, Andrea. And your arugula and scallions – along with the rest of your garden that I’ve seen – is just beautiful. What a wonderful job you did with the garden this year. And your stories and photos are so inspiring. : )

    P.S. Arugula is extremely cold hardy (and also reseeds itself very easily) so you could probably enjoy a late fall and even early winter harvest. The flavor also stays milder for a lot longer in cooler weather. I picked arugula from the same plants for several weeks last winter, whereas in the late spring they would have had to be eaten within days. (I don’t even bother growing it in summer.)


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