An easy and quick herby arugula pesto that you can customise however you like! Rocket adds such a fresh yet peppery note to an otherwise standard basil pesto. Turned into a sauce with a splash of pasta water this herby rocket pesto will become a go to quick dinner.
Herby rocket pesto
Hello! I am finally writing up my go to pesto recipe! There is nothing wrong with a standard basil pesto but adding rocket really does turn it into something special. The purists won't like the fact I make this in a food processor but I'd like to see them try to fit all these ingredients into a mortar and pestle! I mix rocket, basil and flat leaf parsley with parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and just a touch of honey for sweetness.
I have made this with every pasta shape under the sun. Will be perfect with spaghetti or pappardelle but you could pair it with my handmade orecchiette or gnocchi sardi too. Adding pasta water turns it into a beautiful luxurious sauce then topping it with lemon zest and some burrata takes it to a whole other level.
The pesto ingredients
- Rocket - otherwise known as arugula! It may seem like a strange thing to add to a pesto but it makes it so fresh and vibrant.
- Basil - can you really make a pesto without it?
- Flat Leaf Parsley - I love the grassy flavour of flat leaf parsley, but feel free to use any other herbs you like. I love that you can just play around with it.
- Pine nuts - a pesto classic! Walnuts or any other nut will work as well.
- Parmesan - it is always great to use a really good quality parmesan in a pesto if you can as it does add a lot of flavour to it. Grana Padano is a slightly cheaper version which works really here too.
- Olive Oil - Same as the parmesan, a good quality oil makes a difference.
- Lemon Juice - I don't think I am capable of making any pasta sauce without lemon juice, it makes everything better!
- Honey - I add just a tiny bit of honey to this I think it rounds out the flavour balance but it's totally optional.
How to take your pesto to the next level
You could stir your pesto through your cooked pasta as usual but I like to turn it into more of a sauce. To do this I gently heat the pesto when my pasta is just about cooked. I then add in ¼ cup of pasta water to the pesto and whisk or stir. You'll see it turns it into a sauce and you can then add your cooked pasta straight into it. Topping it with lemon zest keeps it zingy and fresh.
Some tips for this recipe and just pasta in general!
- Pasta water - it really is your best friend. It turns any sauce, even butter into gold. Check out my butter sauce guide to see how it can transform a butter sauce. I never drain my pasta, I lift the cooked pasta straight out of the pot into the sauce with a spider strainer. I then have the pasta water sitting there if I need more.
- Sauciness - I like all my pastas to be super saucy. Pasta soaks up sauce fast, especially creamy sauces so I like to make it almost a touch too saucy so by the time you serve it into the bowls it is perfect.
- Heating bowls - pasta cools down so quick so heating bowls helps so much, especially if you are cooking for lots of people. I like to throw bowls into a warm oven for 10 mins or so.
- Lemon - I know I seem a bit lemon obsessed in my recipes but it's for such good reason! A simple squeeze of lemon adds the perfect finishing touch to any dish! Adding lemon zest to a meat ragu is life changing, try it next time you make one!!
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love it so much if you could leave a review down below! Also please tag me or send me a photo on instagram, it seriously makes me day seeing your creations. Feel free to get in touch any time to ask me questions, I love chatting pasta with you!Print