Vegan Arugula Pesto: A Healthy and Delicious Spin

Welcome, my fellow foodies! In this world of fast-paced living and grab-and-go meals, finding time to prepare a delicious meal can seem like a challenging task. However, the benefits of taking the time to prepare a flavorful dish immensely outweigh the convenience of fast food. That’s where I come in as your expert vegan chef. Today, I’ll be sharing with you my newest creation that I know you will love – Vegan Arugula Pesto!

This recipe is my take on a classic Italian dish that is usually dressed with dairy cheese and loads of olive oil. But don’t worry, my plant-based version is oil-free and dairy-free, yet it still manages to retain its authentic taste and flavor. This pesto has a vibrant green color and is packed with all-natural ingredients that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

The star ingredient of this recipe is arugula – a green leafy vegetable known for its peppery taste and nutritional content. The addition of fresh basil, garlic cloves, nutritional yeast flakes, and pine nuts gives the pesto a fantastic aroma that is both savory and distinct.

Whether you’re new to veganism or have been plant-based for a while now, this recipe is perfect for anyone looking to incorporate more veggies into their diet without having to resort to bland salads or boring dishes. Get ready to enjoy an elevated pasta experience with this scrumptious Vegan Arugula Pesto eliciting pure joy in every bite. So let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegan  Arugula Pesto
Vegan Arugula Pesto

Listen up, my fellow food enthusiasts! Let me tell you why this vegan arugula pesto recipe is going to blow your mind. First of all, it’s plant-based, which means it’s perfect for our vegan friends out there. But even if you’re not a vegan, don’t overlook this recipe just yet.

This pesto is packed with flavor, thanks to the peppery arugula, fresh basil, and savory garlic. And let’s not forget about the pine nuts – they add an unbeatable nuttiness and texture that will make your taste buds sing. Plus, the nutritional yeast flakes replace the usual Parmesan cheese found in traditional pesto recipes, making this dish dairy-free and guilt-free.

But what I love most about this recipe is its versatility. It can be used in so many ways – on pasta, pizza, sandwiches or even as a dip for some crunchy vegetables or chips. You can truly elevate any dish with a dollop of this pesto.

Whether you’re meal prepping for your busy week ahead or looking to impress your guests at dinner, this vegan arugula pesto will have everyone coming back for seconds. Trust me on this one – it’s worth giving it a try!

Ingredient List

“Get ready for a flavor explosion with this Vegan Arugula Pesto!”

Let’s take a look at the ingredients needed to make this vegan arugula pesto recipe.

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh arugula
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

I recommend using the freshest ingredients possible, as this will make a significant difference in the taste of your pesto. You can find most of these ingredients easily in any grocery store.

The Recipe How-To

“An easy-to-make, versatile sauce that’s perfect for any meal!”

Let’s Get Our Hands Dirty: Making the Vegan Arugula Pesto

Welcome to the heart of this recipe article, where we give you a step-by-step guide on how to make this vegan arugula pesto. This rich and tangy pesto is an easy and versatile recipe that will add a new dimension to your dishes.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

The ingredients we need for this wonderful vegan arugula pesto recipe are as follows:


  • 2 cups arugula
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 cup olive oil

Step 2: Making the Pesto

Now, let’s start making our arugula pesto! Once you have gathered all the ingredients, we can follow these simple steps:

  1. Start by washing the arugula well and drying it properly. You can use a salad spinner, or lay them out on a towel until completely dry.

  2. Take a food processor and add the dried arugula leaves, basil, garlic cloves, and pine nuts in it. Now it’s time to pulse till everything is roughly combined.

  3. Now is the time to add in a few more ingredients – nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, ground cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and some sea salt according to your taste.

  4. Continue blending/pulsing until everything is well combined.

  5. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the food processor is running until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

Step 3: Taste Testing & Serving recommendations

After following these steps, give our vegan arugula pesto a nice taste test before storing it in an airtight container or using it immediately!

You can try pairing it with simple pasta or as a spread over some crusty bread for some quick bites.

Now you have mastered making your own vibrant, healthier and delicious bowl of vegan arugula pesto served perfectly on any occasion!

Substitutions and Variations

“Brighten your dish with a pop of green thanks to this arugula pesto.”

Now, let’s talk about some exciting substitutions and variations that can be done with this vegan arugula pesto recipe. The possibilities are endless, so let’s dive in.

Firstly, if you’re not a fan of arugula, no worries! You can swap it out for another leafy green such as spinach or kale. These greens will offer their unique flavor profiles to the dish and make it taste just as fresh and delicious.

For those who are allergic to nuts, not to worry because there are nut-free alternatives. You can replace the pine nuts with sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead. This swap not only avoids adding nuts, but it also adds a satisfying crunch to the pesto.

If you’re following a gluten-free diet, use gluten-free pasta to make your pesto pasta dish. Additionally, adding steamed broccoli or roasted cauliflower can add some extra nutrients and crunch to your meal.

Furthermore, you can add other ingredients such as avocado or cashews for an even creamier texture. For those seeking a different taste profile, sundried tomatoes can be incorporated into the recipe which offers a rich flavor and adds a bright pop of color.

Another excellent variation is using different oils such as macadamia nut oil or cashew butter to replace extra virgin olive oil. These oils give an entirely new flavor profile that still complements the pesto’s other flavors beautifully.

Lastly, don’t forget about pea pesto! It’s an excellent alternative to an arugula walnut pesto that offers a new spin on the classic basil pesto.

Overall, substitutions and variations allow you the freedom to take this recipe and make it completely your own. Give these ideas a try or come up with some of your own and share them with us. Get creative in the kitchen and enjoy!

Serving and Pairing

“Upgrade your pasta game with this dairy-free arugula pesto!”

Let me tell you, serving and pairing are what bring a dish to life. The vegan arugula pesto may be the star of this dish, but how it’s served and paired can make all the difference.

Firstly, let’s talk about pasta. This vegan arugula pesto pairs perfectly with any type of pasta, but I’m partial to spaghetti. The nutty flavor of the pine nuts combined with the peppery flavor of the arugula and the creaminess of the pesto sauce make for an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

If you want to go a little off-the-beaten-path, try pairing this vegan arugula pesto with roasted vegetables like broccoli or tomatoes. The savory and earthy flavor of the vegetables plays well against the boldness of the pesto sauce, making for an incredibly satisfying meal.

And don’t forget that homemade pesto is incredibly versatile! Use it as a spread on bread or crackers, toss it with a salad or use it as a dip. This vegan arugula pesto is perfect for meal prep too – you can whip up a batch and store it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to two weeks.

To serve this dish, I recommend adding a sprinkle of extra pine nuts on top for some crunch, as well as fresh lemon juice to really awaken all those complex flavors. Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative with your presentations – serve it in a bowl or on a platter, and watch your friends and family marvel at its beauty!

In conclusion, this vegan arugula pesto is perfect for any occasion – from dinner parties to lazy weeknights at home. It’s not only delicious but also nutritious! So give it a try, experiment with different pairings and let me know how you like it!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Impress your guests with a gourmet-looking dish without the hassle.”

You’re probably wondering how long this divine vegan arugula pesto will last. Well, have no fear, my plant-based friends, because this delightful mix of flavors is perfect for making ahead and storing for later use.

Once you’ve whipped up a big batch of this vegan arugula pesto love, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. If you want to keep it around even longer, you can store it in the freezer for up to three months. Just be sure to thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating and using.

When it comes time to reheat your vegan arugula pesto, you can warm it over low heat on the stove while stirring frequently. Be mindful not to overheat it – we don’t want anyone’s taste buds burned! If you’re using this lovely sauce as a pasta dressing, try adding a splash of water or plant-based milk to thin it out a bit.

One pro tip to save some time and energy is to make a big batch of this vegan arugula pesto at the start of the week and use it throughout the week for all kinds of meals. It’s delightful with pasta or salad or just smeared on top of some toast with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers. The possibilities are truly endless with this flavor-packed sauce.

Tips for Perfect Results

“Healthy and delicious? Yes, please! This arugula pesto delivers both.”

Cooking is an art that requires balancing flavors, textures, and temperatures to create a unique and satisfying dish. Making vegan arugula pesto is no exception. Here are some tips to help you achieve the best vegan arugula pesto possible.

1. Use fresh and high-quality ingredients:

The quality of your ingredients will affect the final taste of your pesto recipe. When making vegan arugula pesto, use fresh arugula, basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and nutritional yeast flakes. Make sure to get extra virgin olive oil for a richer and more delicate flavor.

2. Balance flavors with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice:

Salt brings out the flavor in food and enhances the taste of individual ingredients. It also helps balance the bitterness of greens like arugula. Black pepper and cayenne add a mild heat that compliments the slight sweetness of pine nuts. Lemon juice brings a little tanginess that elevates all other flavors.

3. Control the consistency:

The consistency of the vegan arugula pesto is vitally important for texture and taste. If it’s too thick or chunky, it won’t spread nicely over pasta or bread. If it’s too runny or watery, it’ll be less flavorful and less satisfying. Be sure to add olive oil gradually in small portions while blending or processing to achieve your desired texture.

4. Make sure to roast your pine nuts:

Roasting your pine nuts before blending them will improve their flavor and give them a distinct crunch.

5. Customize the recipe to your taste:

Customize this recipe according to your personal preferences! If you prefer spiciness, add more cayenne pepper; if you like creaminess, incorporate some cashews or macadamia nuts; if you want something with crunch and umami on top of every bite then consider sun-dried tomatoes or walnuts.

These tips will help you make outstanding vegan arugula pecorino pesto that can be used in various ways such as spreading over a slice of toasted bread or using as a sauce for your pasta dishes!


Now that you have the recipe and know exactly how to make vegan arugula pesto, you might still have some questions or doubts in your mind. So, here’s a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and their respective answers that will come in handy.

Why is my arugula pesto bitter?

When preparing pesto, one potential issue that may arise is a bitter taste. This can occur if the olive oil used is no longer fresh and has begun to spoil. Additionally, if a food processor or blender is used to make the pesto, there is a chance that the violent motion of the blades could also contribute to a bitter flavor.

How do you make arugula pesto less bitter?

When making pesto, a helpful tip to balance out any bitterness is to incorporate a small amount of fat or salt. This can be achieved by adding additional nuts or cheese into the mix, along with a pinch of salt. It’s important to consistently taste your pesto so you can gauge what adjustments are necessary.

How do you preserve arugula pesto?

To prevent any wastage of Arugula Pesto, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in a covered glass jar. However, for long-term use, freezing it in ice cube trays is a smart idea. Once frozen, the cubes can be conveniently popped out whenever needed.

What is the difference between pesto and vegan pesto?

In this recipe, we’re making a vegan version of Italian Basil Pesto, also known as Genoese Pesto, by omitting the dairy (Parmigiano or Pecorino). Instead, we’ll use almonds and nutritional yeast to achieve a similar cheesy flavor and creamy texture.

Bottom Line

So there you have it, folks! The perfect vegan arugula pesto recipe that is sure to tantalize your taste buds and satisfy your cravings. This recipe is not only delicious but is also packed with nutrients and flavor, making it a fantastic addition to your meal repertoire.

Whether you’re a plant-based eater or a curious omnivore looking to switch things up in the kitchen, this vegan arugula pesto is undoubtedly worth giving a try. With its unique blend of fresh arugula, pine nuts, nutritional yeast flakes, and more, you won’t be disappointed by the flavorful and creamy results that become of this recipe.

Take advantage of the flexibility of this pesto and get creative with your serving and pairing options. Whether you want to toss it with pasta or salad, spread it in a sandwich or flatbread, or use it as a dip for crudités or crackers, the possibilities are endless.

So next time you’re in the mood for some Italian-style cuisine but want to keep things plant-based and dairy-free, whip up some vegan arugula pesto in your food processor or blender. You may just find yourself hooked on its bold and savory taste!

Vegan Arugula Pesto

Vegan Arugula Pesto Recipe

Traditional pesto is made with basil, but you can use all kinds of different greens. Chef Tal Ronnen uses arugula to give a peppery kick. If you can't find arugula, use spinach. From The Conscious Cook cookbook.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Appetizer/Sauce
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 1 small batch
Calories 1279.3 kcal


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped arugula, stems included
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Place all ingredients except the oil in a food processor and pulse several times.
  • Continue to blend as you slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream.
  • Use in sandwiches, pasta, rice, salad dressings, etc.
  • Enjoy!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 226gCalories: 1279.3kcalCarbohydrates: 18.6gProtein: 15.7gFat: 132.6gSaturated Fat: 16.8gSodium: 27.6mgFiber: 7.6gSugar: 2.2g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Fruit, Greens, Nuts, Sauces, Spreads, Vegan, Vegetable
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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