Vegan arugula pesto with fresh basil has a zesty kick and is perfect over pasta or zoodles. Or serve it in a bowl for dipping fresh bread!
Arugula can have a bitter taste to it. I find that using it -- half and half -- with basil makes an arugula pesto that's still got that testiness but not the bitterness that some people can find off-putting.
Vegan arugula pesto only takes a few minutes to make and is a great way to use up extra arugula.
There's no mincing, chopping, or cooking required to make this recipe. Simply toss your ingredients into your food processor, and pulse until it reaches the consistency you like.
You can go with a chunkier pesto or keep processing until it reaches a smoother, creamier consistency. It's really up to your personal preference!
If you do like a smoother pesto, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water or additional olive oil. Just see how it goes, and add a tablespoon at a time, as needed.
Serve vegan arugula pesto over anything you like! Here are some ideas:
- toss with roasted vegetables
- pour over pasta
- spoon onto mashed potatoes
- mix into hummus
- pass alongside some bread for dipping
- stuffing into mushrooms
If you're planning to serve it over zoodles or pasta the whole meal comes together in around 20 minutes. For pasta, start the water first, then make the pesto while the pasta is cooking.
Storage and freezing instructions
Store leftover pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for around two weeks. It keeps best if you add a bit of extra oil to the top. This helps prevent spoilage.
You can also freeze leftovers, just like my method for freezing aquafaba! Pour it into an ice cube. One cube is two tablespoons, and it will defrost quickly on the countertop, making it convenient to add to sauces and dips for a quick flavor boost.
More ways to use arugula pesto
Any of the recipes below would be stellar with arugula pesto! If the dish already has a sauce or dressing, simply replace it with one batch of the pesto.
Vegan arugula pesto recipe
- ½ cup fresh arugula loosely packed
- ½ cup fresh basil loosely packed
- 2 cloves garlic or more, if you like! See note.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup roasted, salted cashews
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Toss everything in the food processor and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency. If it's too thick, you can add a tablespoon or two of water or more olive oil to get it to the consistency you like. Season to taste with more salt and black pepper.
What is pesto sauce?
"Cashews," you say? "Arugula," you ask? Is this vegan arugula pesto even really a pesto? It is! Let's talk about it.
Pesto is a sauce made from crushing nuts and herbs with oil. It can also have cheese, but cheese isn't a requirement.
The word pesto actually means "crushed," because traditional pesto is made with a mortar and pestle. Here, we are using a food processor to get a similar texture with a lot less elbow grease.
We normally associate pesto with basil and pine nuts, but you can swap out those herbs and nuts to make all kinds of delicious variations! I like to use cashews, because they give a similar texture for a much lower price.
In this recipe, I'm using half basil and half arugula. The mild spiciness from the arugula blends really well with the basil in this vegan pesto recipe, giving it a zesty flavor.