Arugula Pesto with Spring Garlic

From the looks of my refrigerator, you never know I’ve been doing CSAs for years.  There are greens everywhere!  But to be glass half full about it all, this has finally pushed me to look for a solution to a problem I have every year: too much lettuce—or in this case lettuce and arugula.


CSA Arugula

When we get behind on eating our veggies, I am great at dealing with anything that can go in the freezer.  I even get creative—did you know that you can substitute Kohlrabi for turnips in soup recipes?  But if you can’t freeze it, I choke.  And you can only eat so many salads!

So when I heard about arugula pesto, I was elated; pesto freezes!  I looked up a bunch of recipes on the internet, compared ratios and calculated approximately average quantities of arugula, garlic, olive oil, nuts and cheese.

Arugula Pesto Ingredients

Arugula Pesto Ingredients

For this pesto, I decided to pan roast my nuts and garlic.  Usually I put them both in raw, but since I expected flack from the kids on the arugula, I wanted to do anything possible to give this a taste edge.  Given the recent 90 degree days, I wasn’t about to heat up the oven, so the nuts went into a frying pan dry, got stirred once and taken off when they started to smell good.  The garlic went into a different pan, got sprayed with cooking spray and stirred a bit more and left until golden and softened.

Roasted Spring Garlic

Pan-Toasting Walnuts

Pesto is classically made with pine nuts, but given the price tag of organic pine nuts I long ago swapped that out for walnuts, which are absolutely delicious.  Alternatively, I’ll use any nut I have around—after a big Brazil nut purchase, we ate Brazil nut pesto for a year (mmmm!).

Regular garlic is another standard ingredient, but since it isn’t in season, I used the spring garlic provided by one of the CSAs.   Spring garlic is the young garlic harvest from fall planted garlic seeds.  It doesn’t have cloves, just a single bulb and is a milder, but works beautifully in pesto.  Another fine spring substitute is garlic scapes, the early green shoots from garlic, which also makes an appearance in my CSA boxes.

Spring Garlic

Spring Garlic

I guess pesto is very adaptable to seasonal eating!

Pesto is typically served mixed with pasta (great with shrimp) and I also like it blended with reduced fat mayonnaise and used as a sandwich spread.  Picnic season is here!

Arugula Pesto on Pasta

Pesto on Pasta

Arugula Pesto


  • 4 cups arugula, lightly packed
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (may use up to 1/3 cup more if you packed your arugula tighter)
  • 12 roasted garlic cloves or 3-4 raw cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted or raw
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Place all ingredients except Parmesan in a blender or food processor

2.  Process until well combined

3.  Stir in grated Parmesan

Can be served over pasta, used as a spread or many more ways.

*    *    *

I actually liked this better than basil pesto and almost as much as cilantro pesto.  And now the dilemma—do I fess up that its arugula when I serve it to the kids or just call it pesto?

And if anyone out there has ideas for serious lettuce consumption, let me know!  That refrigerator is still pretty full!

20 thoughts on “Arugula Pesto with Spring Garlic

  1. Karis

    You make a great point about pesto being adaptable to seasonal eating. I’m going to keep that in mind the next time I’m wondering what to do with items in my CSA box. Oh, and I completely agree about walnuts. I’ve never purchased pine nuts due to their price tag, and have always used walnuts instead with delicious results 🙂

    1. Inger Wilkerson

      I make and freeze cilantro pesto when I get buried in that too. A couple years ago we remodeled our kitchen–hoping to have it done before CSA season. Alas we did a LOT of freezing that year!

  2. Promenade Claire

    Looking and sounding delicious – i love the results when we get inventive. And the addition of frying the garlic befor ehand I’m sure made it a tasty treat!

  3. Beth

    I’ve never eaten arugula pesto, but I’m sure I’d love it. What a great solution for when you have too many greens!

  4. Lynn

    I never would have thought to freeze pesto. Thanks for the tip! We are getting behind on eating our greens from our CSA, good to know I can at least freeze some of it!

  5. Jennifer

    Thank you so very much for this recipe, we’re going camping this weekend and wondered what to do with the greens in the fridge. I happened upon it while looking for an easy way to grill shish kabobs as we’ll be camping and don’t want to mess around – so thank you for sharing both!

    1. Inger Post author

      I sooo understand wondering what to do with all the greens in the fridge! I hope these work out for you!

  6. Pingback: Lemon Balm Pesto with Shrimp - Art of Natural Living

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