pesto pasta with tomatoes

Spicy Summer Arugula Pesto

spicy summer arugula pesto in a pot with text overlay

Spicy summer arugula pesto is a simple and easy sauce to make. It is versatile, adaptable, and delicious. Great for the summer when you do not want to stand in a hot kitchen for hours

Traditionally pesto alla genovese is with crushed garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, and hard cheese blended with olive oil.

This twist uses arugula and almonds instead of basil and pine nuts which is cheaper and often easier to find. This recipe also includes lemon rind, lemon juice, and dried chili flakes to add acid, spice, brightness, and balance.

Arugula has a peppery taste that pairs well with lemon and parmesan. The almonds grind together to create a wonderful creamy taste and texture. This spicy summer arugula pesto will become a go-to recipe for the hot months.

pest ingredients in a food processor

How to make pesto:

Add arugula, garlic, lemon zest, almonds and parmesan, lemon juice, chili flakes, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Importance of good quality olive oil:

It is important to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Not only does the olive oil prevent oxidization and allow provide the pesto a longer shelf life, but it also provides the bulk of the flavor. Use olive oil that has a flavor you enjoy on its own. I prefer an earthy and mild-flavored olive oil to make this spicy summer arugula pesto.

pest in a bowl with spaghetti


Goes well with:

Pesto is a super versatile sauce made with fresh herbs and ingredients.

  • Top pesto on some homemade pizza dough with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.
  • Add to toast with some fresh burrata for a great appetizer.
  • Better yet, toss with some spaghetti and serve with mozzarella and tomatoes.
  • Use as a marinade on chicken or vegetables.
  • Add some additional olive oil and lemon juice and turn it into a salad dressing.
  • Serve as part of a cheese board with some great fresh bread.
pesto pasta with tomatoes

How to store spicy summer arugula pesto:

  • Store in the fridge for up to one week. Pour a little extra olive oil on top to prevent it from browning.
  • Store in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Reasons to make arugula pesto:

Simple to Make– Add the ingredients to a food processor and blend.

Versatile– Can be used with pasta, sandwiches, to flavor bread, cheeseboards, poultry, and in salad dressings.

Seasonal– Perfect sauce for a hot summer day when you do not want to stand in front of the stove.

Reduce Waste– Great way to use up the leftover arugula in your fridge before it goes bad.

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pesto in a bowl with cherry tomatoes

Spicy Summer Arugula Pesto

  • Author: hungrygirlinqueens
  • Prep Time: 4 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian


Spicy summer arugula pesto is a perfect no-cook recipe that can be used to make a wide range of quick and easy weekday meal.



  • 3 ounces fresh arugula
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 dried chilli flakes (more if desired)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until the desired texture and smoothness.

Keywords: pesto, spicy, arugula

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