Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

I went to make a salad the other day and realized that I went a little crazy on buying arugula last week. I reached into the crisper to find another bag just chilling under a bag of carrots. OOPS. So, instead of letting it go to waste, I decided to make Arugula Pesto. Regroup!

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

But then I realized I didn’t have Parmesan… and then I remembered that time recently when I went a little overboard on buying nutritional yeast in bulk at the store and BING! My arugula pesto turned into a VEGAN Arugula Pesto. If you haven’t already figured out….I have a problem of going overboard when it comes to food.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

This pesto is super green! I really thought it would be potent and spicy because I added a ton of arugula, but it’s not. It is heavy-handed on the garlic and the lemon & nutritional yeast add that nice tang a good pesto needs. I love using toasted walnuts in here because it makes for a creamy consistency and base. The kick comes right after you have a bite but it’s almost like a mellow red pepper flake sensation. I crave that kick. Perhaps that’s why I’m arugula obsessed.

Arugula completes me. 

And we’re off!

Your kitchen will surely smell good during this recipe.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Let’s talk about Nutritional Yeast for a second. It’s amazing! I get it at my local Whole Foods in the bulk section. It’s really inexpensive when you buy it in bulk. I usually put it on popcorn, but it’s a great tool to fake cheese if you need to. All the vegans love it. Just be careful when you’re eating it with popcorn…you can inhale it and then spur a crazy coughing fit. Lesson learned from eating popcorn too fast. Don’t be me.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

I like to process garlic first when I use my  food processor. Mostly because it makes me feel better about not having to chop it.

You can also use blender to complete this activity! My mom always made pesto in a blender when we were young.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Arugula and Basil!

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Now add in the walnuts, nutritional yeast & lemon juice.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Add the olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. PROCESS. You can also add the oil while the machine is going, but that wouldn’t really provide the greatest photograph. Either way, you get the point.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Hummina Hummina Hummina.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Put it in a jar! Huff that pesto. It smells divine!

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

And then put it in your fridge and every time you open the door, steal a spoonful from the jar. Wait, I’m telling you my secrets.

But really…it’s SO GOOD ON PASTA, in eggs and on sandwiches too!

Here it is on top of spaghetti squash (on the left) with tomatoes & toasted walnuts.

Arugula Pesto // shutterbean

Casey got a pasta version with extra Parmesan!

Arugula Pesto

makes about 1 cup

recipe inspired by thekitchn

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 cups arugula
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper


In a bowl of a food processor process garlic until nicely chopped. Next add in the arugula and basil and continue to process until leaves are minced. Add in the walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Season with salt & pepper to taste and process until the pesto is smooth & creamy. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a refrigerator for  up to 1 week.



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  • Michelle @ FullyBellyWornSoles

    This looks totally awesome. I’m constantly finding vegetables in my fridge that I completely forgot I bought. This is a great solution!

  • Bevin

    That’s awesome! I make a pesto nearly exactly like this, but with cheese–it never occurred to me to use nutritional yeast instead, but what a great idea! I have a bag of the stuff that I had no clue what to do with, so this is perfect.

  • stephanie

    love the use of nutritional yeast. i’ve been playing with it recently too!

  • Katy @ Katy's Kitchen

    I haven’t tried nut. yeast in pesto but have definitely used it to make “cheeze” and it’s sooooo delicious. Also, walnut in pesto? Yes please! I’m pinning this recipe because the basil at the farmers markets is looking pretty droopy…time to switch to arugula!

  • Kaitlin

    I usually go the basil + kale/cilantro/parsley route for my greens, but arugula sounds delicious! I realized I was out of parmesan the last time i was making some and incidentally made it vegan – next time I’ll do it on purpose and finally use the unopened nutritional yeast in my pantry. Thanks for the recipe!

  • meg

    Ah! Super reminder, for I also overdo it on the arugula. It’s just so good! The rest of the family disagrees. And nobody but me will eat the popcorn topped with nutritional yeast, so that’s sitting there getting old, too. We’ll be having this over some tortellini this weekend.

  • Brenda

    Looks delicious!

    Just a little note- be careful using nutritional yeast. Vegans love it because they view it as a non-animal source of Vitamin B12, though they are misguided. The Vitamin B12 from animal products is referred to as cobalamin, whereas the plant version from nutritional yeast is cobamide, which antagonizes our Vitamin B12 receptors and inhibit its uptake. 🙁

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    I need to remember this the next time I forget to eat the arugula.

  • jenny

    “arugula completes me.” AMEN, sister! this recipe looks awesome.

  • Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate

    One of my favorite pasta dishes involves tossing it in arugula pesto and then topping it off with some fresh arugula dressed with lemon and salt. Perfect way to use up leftover arugula!

  • jesse

    I could eat pesto straight out of the miniprep, and in fact, I have. And when I’m feeling more refined, I love to toss it with angel hair and tofu as well:

  • Iwona

    I love your blog!

  • PaulaK

    If you blanch the arugula and basil (give it a quick dunk in boiling water) and squeeze it out before processing, the pesto will keep it’s bright green color forever. Love the recipe!

  • wb

    This looks soooo good! I love arugula too, but sometimes struggle to eat a whole bag before it goes bad on me. Pesto=PERFECT SOLUTION!

    Do you think I could use an immersion blender to make this?

    • Tracy

      Does your immersion blender have one of those attachments that’s kind of like a mini food processor? I bet if you start with a big jar and put the olive oil and slowly add in the rest of the ingredients, it could work!

  • Amy

    I can’t believe my parents don’t like pesto – I share genes with those people! Oh well, more for me, oh, and my boy – guess I should share with him 🙂 Thanks for sharing Tracy. I’ll have to hunt down some nutritional yeast at one of our health food stores 🙂

  • Ellen

    Yeaaaa another way to use the giant container of nutritional yeast I bought! Never thought to use it in a pesto-type dip before. Sounds good!

  • charity

    yum! i put nutritional yeast in so many recipes, sounds delish in pesto.

  • Anya

    I already made this today! Yumm! Thanks for all the great and original ideas!

  • Emily

    I wonder if nutritional yeast is sort of like cilantro…you either love it or absolutely hate it. I tried to make a vegan “cheese” sauce using it a while back and absolutely could not bare the smell of it. Of course with the smell bothering me so much, I didn’t like the taste either. But so far all the comments about nutritional yeast are positive, and I’ve read lots of people elsewhere who enjoy it. Could I have bought a bad brand? I bought it out of a bulk bin at my local Smith’s (a Kroger chain). Or maybe it’s just not for me.

  • Redhead in the Kitchen

    Yum! I’ve been looking for a way to use my extra nooch I have in the cabinet and I never would have thought to use it in pesto! Brilliant.

  • Kate

    I’ve made arugula pesto twice in the past week, once with Dubliner cheese and once with Parm. The nutritional yeast is a great suggestion!

  • Amy of VSpot

    I LOVE NOOCH (nutritional yeast)! Thanks for putting it to great use. This looks so yummy.

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  • heidi

    great ideas, here! do you mind sharing what type of camera and photo editing software you use? Thank you!

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  • Rachel

    Would the recipe still taste good/turn out if I left out the nutritional yeast?

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