We have shared many Italian pesto recipes on Mediterranean Living. To name just a few: kale pesto, oregano pesto, and red pesto.

But have you ever heard of arugula pesto (or rocket pesto/rucola pesto, depending on where in the world you are)? It’s basically basil pesto, but instead of fresh basil, we use fresh arugula. When combined with usual pesto ingredients like pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese, this pesto with arugula has a very similar consistency and texture. However, the arugula gives the pesto a more peppery taste.

Arugula Pesto With Tagliatelle and Sundried Tomatoes Article

Today I’m pairing my arugula pesto recipe with tagliatelle because there’s nothing better than pesto pasta. We finish the dish with a sprinkle of extra pine nuts and sundried tomatoes on top. This is such a delicious vegetarian main dish that is so easy to make. In fact, your arugula pesto pasta will be ready to serve in under 30 minutes.

While I love this particular pesto pasta, keep reading for more serving suggestions as this pesto is a very versatile recipe. Who doesn’t love that?


  • For a chunkier pesto, you can use a traditional mortar and pestle. For a smoother pesto, use a blender instead.
  • If you’d like to easily add some extra flavor, toast the pine nuts quickly in a skillet before adding them to the pesto and using them as a garnish.
  • On the other hand, instead of pine nuts, add walnuts, almonds, or even cashews.  
  • Many recipes like these include garlic. If you’d like to add it, opt for just one minced garlic clove. Any more has the tendency to overpower the dish.


What is arugula pesto made of?

This pesto is typically made with a combination of arugula, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Sometimes other ingredients are added, like garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, and/or pecorino cheese.

How do you make this pesto less bitter?

If it’s harvested too late, arugula can turn bitter. Plus, sometimes the extra virgin olive oil turns bitter when blended in the food processor. One way to balance the bitterness is to add some fresh basil leaves to the pesto (for example, three ounces of arugula and one ounce of basil). 

Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or a simple splash of water to the food processor to counteract the bitterness.

How do you serve arugula pesto?

Wondering what to do with this tasty pesto? Well, here are several serving suggestions to get you started:

  • Enjoy it on a bed of fresh pasta like we do in this arugula pesto pasta recipe. While I prefer tagliatelle and linguine, you can use any type of pasta, including penne or farfalle. You can also make something similar to our Mediterranean chicken pesto pasta.
  • Serve it as a side dish over freshly roasted potatoes. This works great with a simple main dish like roast chicken.
  • Use it as a pizza sauce alternative on your next homemade pizza.
  • Enjoy it over baked chicken, grilled chicken skewers, or on steak.
  • Serve it as a dipping sauce with flatbread or crackers.
  • Spread it on your next toasted sandwich.

Is this recipe vegan?

This particular rocket pesto recipe isn’t vegan as it includes two types of cheese. However, we do already have a vegan pesto recipe on Mediterranean Living, which is an arugula and basil pesto. 

If you like, swap the basil in the linked recipe for arugula and you’ll instantly have a vegan arugula pesto. Or keep it as is for vegan basil arugula pesto sauce, the choice is yours. Another option is to use nutritional yeast instead of the cheese in this recipe.

How do you store arugula pesto?

Store the arugula sauce in an airtight container or mason jar in the fridge for up to one week. 

How do you preserve arugula pesto?

I recommend adding a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve the pesto before storing it either in the fridge or freezer. This prevents it from browning and ensures it remains vividly green.

Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes, you can freeze it. I’d freeze it flat in a zipper seal bag for up to three months. Thaw it in the fridge before serving.

Can I make this ahead of time?

You can absolutely make this recipe ahead of time. It will keep for one week in the fridge or you can store it in the freezer.


Arugula Pesto With Tagliatelle and Sundried Tomatoes

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 583 kcal


  • 4 ounces arugula leaves (about 2 bunches)
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces pecorino cheese, grated
  • ounces pine nuts (about 6 tablespoons), divided
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound tagliatelle or linguine
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, optional


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  • In a food processor, process the arugula, freshly grated parmesan and pecorino cheese, half of the pine nuts, and olive oil to the desired consistency. I like it fairly chunky, but some like it smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Cook the pasta as the package directs. Drain the pasta well and mix it with the pesto to coat. Top the pasta with the remaining pine nuts and sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle it with pepper and salt, if using.


Calories: 583kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 18gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 302mgPotassium: 391mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 636IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 244mgIron: 3mg
Have you tried this recipe? Tell us about it!Click here to rate this recipe in the comments section below.
About the Author: Koula Barydakis
Koula Barydakis was born into a long tradition of eating and living Mediterranean on the Greek island of Crete. She is a chef who has worked in many of the top restaurants in Crete and in Greek Town in Toronto, Canada. Koula is the co-author of “Foods of Crete, Traditional Recipes of the Healthiest People in the World” and is currently completing her second cookbook. Koula teaches cooking classes to tourists in Crete and has been hired to teach classes in other countries as well.
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