Pesto is a fancy way of describing a sauce made of blended herbs, nuts, and oil. When people think of pesto, most think of pesto Genovese. Pesto Genovese is a combination of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Although basil is the most common herb found in pesto, you can use a variety of flavors to take this classic sauce and elevate to be something new and different. Similar to spinach, arugula is such a versatile green. It can be enjoyed hot, cold or blended as an herb. I have taken a classic pesto recipe and added arugula, giving the sauce a peppery flavor that is so unique and delicious.
What is in arugula pesto
Arugula- Gives a peppery and earthy flavor to the pesto sauce.
Basil- Gives the sauce a sweet mild flavor.
Olive Oil- Since there is a considerable amount, use a good quality olive oil. I reserve the cheap stuff for sautéing.
Parmesan Cheese- A classic add to any pesto.
Pine Nuts- Pine nuts are very mild and don’t overpower the sauce. Pesto sauce is versatile, so you can use whatever nuts you have.
Bow Tie Pasta- Any pasta will work.
Cherry Tomatoes- The sweetness of cherry tomatoes is off the charts. I also find these tomatoes to be the easiest and quickest to blister in the oven.
Garlic, Salt and Pepper- I don’t trust any pasta recipe without garlic, salt, and pepper. Amiright?
How to make arugula pesto
I’m a total pesto snob and firmly against the store bought type. Please don’t buy pesto from a jar, because it tastes absolutely nothing like the fresh version. Pesto is actually a very easy sauce to make. It’s simple….Just add the arugula, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Place a piece of foil over the top of the sauce to keep fresh. To keep the fresh green color, store in a container with a lid.
How to blister cherry tomatoes in the oven
I absolutely love roasted tomatoes. This is so easy and adds so much flavor to the dish. The acidic qualities of the tomatoes balance the rich flavor of the pesto. Toss the cherry or grape tomato halves in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. In a pinch for time? Skip the roasting step and just add fresh cherry tomatoes to the pasta.
How to make the pasta
Cook the bow tie pasta according to the package directions in salted water. Drain the pasta and add back to the pot. Add the fresh pesto and stir into cooked pasta. Heat pasta with the sauce until warm. Top with the blistered cherry tomatoes.
Other applications for the pesto
Double the recipe and reserve the pesto for sandwiches, eggs or pizza. You can also mix it into just about any homemade or store bought salad dressings. Spread on chicken or fish and bake in the oven. Basically, it goes with just about anything. Well, except ice cream…
Pesto is a great sauce to make ahead of time. It holds in the fridge for up to 5 days and freezes well.
Arugula Pesto Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes
- 10 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (approx. 25 tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb. bow tie pasta
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (for serving)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1.5 cups arugula, packed
- 1/2 cup basil, packed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup olive oil (good quality)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Toss 1 tbsp of olive oil with the cherry/grape tomato halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet.
- Add the parmesan, arugula, basil, garlic cloves, olive oil, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Blend until smooth, approximatly 30 seconds.
- Cook 1 lb. of pasta according to the package and drain.
- Transfer the drained pasta back into the pot and add desired amount of fresh pesto. Mix until combined and heat until warm. Top with the blistered tomaotes and serve with fresh parmesan cheese.