Arugula Walnut Pesto with Chicken Soba {recipe} – Pesto Change-o

Arugula (Wild) and Walnuts in Shell[Eating Rainbow | Green | no. 4 Arugula]

For a very long time, we refused to eat pesto because we hated the flavor and fragrance and everything that had to do with basil. Yes, basil, the beloved herb of millions of people from the sun-drenched hillsides of southern Italy to the verdant tropics of Thailand. We put basil in the same category of herbs as we do cilantro, a category which we named something along the lines of “Vile Disgusting Herbs.”

(We also place mint in there, but let’s try to stay on track here, ok?)

Our utter pesto hatred was something of a problem because we also have a stupid allergy to tomatoes, which made pasta night in The TasteSpotting Kitchen pretty unexciting.

Spaghetti. With lemon and capers! Every time. Yay.

We don’t know why it took us so long to realize that while we couldn’t make tomato sauce with anything but tomatoes (wait, is that the opposite of redundant, or whatever?) we could make pesto from any combination of herbs, nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil.

Arugula Walnut Pesto
Our Arugula Walnut Pesto uses exactly those: bitter, pungent, peppery arugula in place of the basil (because, like we said, we hate basil) and walnuts in place of pine nuts because we are on a major anti-aging regimen and short of actual botox, walnuts might be the thing to cure us of wrinkles.
100% Buckwheat Soba
To amp the health factor, we tossed the pesto with soba noodles rather than regular wheat pasta. The slightly more intense (intense with what, we’re not sure) and nutty flavor of the soba seemed to work well with the strong flavors of the Arugula Walnut Pesto.
Arugula Walnut Pesto on Soba
We used soba with 100% buckwheat, but don’t recommend this unless you have a special dietary need. 100% buckwheat soba is lot sticker and hard to handle than soba made with a combination of grains.
Arugula Walnut Pesto on Soba with Chicken
This version of pesto, like what we imagine for the original for everyone else, is pretty amazing. We loved it in the traditional “pasta” setting, but don’t think we didn’t spread a little of it on everything after that until it was gone. Sandwiches. Scrambled eggs. Straight out of the tupperware with a spoon.

Arugula Walnut Pesto

serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main with something like roast chicken on top


2 garlic cloves, smashed (but no need to mince by hand)
½ pound arugula (about 3 cups, packed)
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
juice of ½ lemon, about 1 tablespoon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Place 2 smashed garlic cloves in food processor and pulse until garlic is chopped finely, about 30 seconds. Add arugula, walnuts and Parmesan cheese and pulse until chopped. Add lemon juice, then with the food processor running on low, add olive oil steady stream.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (we used about 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper).

by Sarah J. Gim on May 3, 2011 · 7 comments

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy May 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

Wow. I can’t wait to eat this. I might have to cut down the cheese a bit because of my stupid cholesterol, but I think it will still be great!


TasteSpotting May 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

cathy – we have a confession to make. the first time we made this, we FORGOT THE CHEESE entirely…and it was GREAT (but had to add a bit more salt)! added the cheese after anyway bc it still needed that thick, “pesto-y” texture…

Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan May 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I’ve made this before when I ran out of jarred pesto. I added a couple sundried tomatoes as well which gave it a nice sweet taste.


TasteSpotting May 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

jennifer – if it weren’t for our little tomato allergy (curses!) we would totally be all over the sun-dried tomato idea!

Jackie C May 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

With a pot of water boiling and no pasta in my cupboard, I found myself in the same situation of creating a pesto pasta using buckwheat soba noodles!! And I have made it many times since then. I find the combination absolutely delicious, healthful, and a beautiful alternative. Your arugula pesto sounds delightful! Thank you for sharing. I am personally obsessed with cilantro pistachio pesto at the moment.


sarah May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

jackie – i will leave the cilantro to you (i cant stand the stuff!), but i absolutely LOVE the idea of using pistachios!!! thanks for the inspiration!

kellypea May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

We’d love this — 100% buckwheat soba or not. Perfect combo of flavors in this. Just made a pesto with pea shoots & no nuts. Really tasty.


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