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This arugula pasta makes a super easy weeknight meal that’s luscious, fresh, full of savory flavors and absolutely delicious.
It’s also ready in no time, less than 15 minutes from start to finish, perfect to cheer you up after a long day!
May I introduce you to what is one of my favorite ways to eat arugula? Because this is one of the pasta recipes that I make regularly for family, let’s say… at least once per week?
If you’re like me, you always have a few bags of arugula salad in the fridge. It’s convenient, it keeps well for days and it’s not just for delicious salads, but it’s so versatile and great for pasta and pizza recipes!
Arugula is one of the magic cruciferous vegetables, and like its cousins cabbage, broccoli and kale, this real powerhouse provides plenty of amazing health benefits.
And not only is this arugula pasta recipe quick and easy to whip up, but it’s crazy delicious too!
First of all, apart from your favourite pasta shapes, all you need is a food processor, a bag of arugula, parmesan, cashews, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Easy peasy.
Blend all the ingredients with a quick whizz and add olive oil and some pasta cooking water. Thanks to the starch content of this water, this little trick will make the final result moist and juicy without loading the pasta with a ton of olive oil.
Believe me, it’s so yummy and smooth that you’ll come back for seconds!
List of the ingredients
- Baby arugula (aka rocket here in the UK)
- Pasta (spaghetti, penne, rigatoni…)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Salt & Pepper
How to make arugula pasta
(Note: this is a quick description, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Cook you pasta until al dente.
- Place arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, garlic, cashews, salt and pepper in a food processor.
- Whizz for a few seconds, just until you get a coarse pesto-like texture.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil, the pasta cooking water, and give a final quick whizz.
- This is how the arugula pesto looks like (picture below). Taste and make sure you’re happy with the seasoning.
- Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Return the pasta to the pot, stir in the arugula pesto, a touch of the starchy pasta water, toss until combined and serve!
Note: during the cooking time, the pasta releases some of its starches into the cooking water. Using some of this starchy pasta water when you make your sauce or toss your pasta, makes the final texture richer and moist while the salt content lends extra flavor.
Arugula pasta ingredients & substitutions
Arugula: for convenience I use washed baby arugula (aka rocket) out of the bag. The more peppery wild arugula works too.
Pasta: any long pasta shapes such as spaghetti or linguine, or any short pastas like rigatoni, penne or this amazing cavatelli pasta are perfect. My favorite brands are Garofalo and Rummo.
Extra virgin olive oil: use good-quality extra virgin olive oil, it’s less processed than regular olive oil and it’s full of antioxidants. It’s definitely the best for flavor and nutrition, especially when you eat it raw.
Pasta water: it’s starchy content makes the sauce thick and glossy, and at the same time it reduces the amount of olive oil used. Some of my recipes, like this walnut sauce pasta or sun dried tomato pesto use this clever trick!
Parmesan cheese: it adds it’s rich, savory flavor that makes everything better. However, you can use 1/2 avocado instead of parmesan cheese, this lovely substitution works great if you want to make a diary-free/vegan version!
Cashews: they add texture and make the arugula pesto creamier. Lastly, they come cheaper than pine nuts, and I like them even more!
Sun-dried tomatoes: they add a touch of umami flavor and make the peppery arugula flavor rounded and smoother.
Garlic: although it’s a must in every pesto recipe, go easy on garlic, you don’t want to overpower the other flavors.
Salt & pepper: since the recipe calls for some salty pasta water, I don’t use more than 1/4 tps of fine salt, but taste and make sure the seasoning works for you as well.
More quick pasta recipes?
If you love pasta, I’m sure you’ll love this collection of 13 quick and easy pasta recipes as much as we do. The economical pasta allows us to whip up a filling, delicious meal in no time, these are some of our staples you might like too:
- Pasta with spinach
- Pasta with tomato soup
- Carbonara with mushrooms
- Quick pasta with olives
- Pasta with artichokes
If you make this scrumptious arugula pasta, or if you have any questions, let me know! Leave a comment, send me a message, or rate it. I would love to hear from you!
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- ½ lb (8oz/220 grams) pasta
- 4 cups (80 grams) baby arugula, washed
- ⅓ cup (40 grams) sun dried tomatoes, drained
- ¼ cup (30 grams) cashews
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- ⅓ cup (30-40 grams) grated parmesan cheese (or use a few whole pieces, same weight)
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pasta cooking water
- Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salty water until al dente.
- When the pasta is nearly done, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and set aside.
- Finally, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Arugula pesto sauce
- While the pasta is cooking, place arugula, parmesan, garlic, cashews, tomatoes, salt and pepper in the food processor. Give a quick blitz just for a few seconds, until the mixture resembles a coarse pesto-like consistency.
- Scrape down size as needed, add extra virgin olive oil and pasta cooking water (use ¼ cup of the water you reserved) to the mixture and give another quick whizz. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Add the arugula pesto sauce to the drained pasta and toss well to combine. Stir in some pasta water as much as needed until you get a moist and juicy consistency.
- Divide into 4 bowl and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if you wish. Enjoy.
I have a big bag of arugula and was looking for a new way to use some of it, this was SOOOO GOOOOOD! I didn’t have as much sun dried tomatoes as this called for but it was still fabulous.
Fantastic, I’m so pleased it was so good, April!
Thanks a lot for sharing your feedback and have a great week. x
Looks fantastic, I love Arugula! But what would be a substitute for the Cashews (nut allergies in the family)? Thank you
Awesome, I’m so happy you love arugula, it’s a staple for me!
In case of nut allergies just skip the cashews, the pesto will taste nice anyway (or use the same amount of sunflower seeds if you wish).
Enjoy it! : )
We loved this pasta, easy and delicious. Thank you for the recipe!
That’s great, Angela! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. Cheers x
Oh this was perfect! My partner loves arugula but it is much too bitter for me. Was looking for a compromise and this is it!!! Easy, quick, and sooo good. Substituted nutritional yeast for the parmesan and it worked out really well (it just wasn’t as pretty haha). Definitely going to make this many more times. Thank you!!!
I’m so pleased to hear it turned out so good! Thanks so much for sharing your lovely feedback. : )
Made this today. Idk if I did smth wrong, but mixed with warm pasta my pesto became bitter 🙁 I used young rocket leaves from garden. I guess this recipe does not work with home grown rockets with taste, only with tastless from supermarket. I ate it, but won’t repeat the recipe.
Hi! I’m afraid it’s not the warm pasta that makes your pesto bitter, it’s the arugula and it’s flavor. X
Making this now but don’t see garlic in the ingredient list. How much garlic?
Sorry for the late reply, Audrey (I’m based in London!).
One sliced garlic clove is fine, but I guess you’ve already made this. : )
This was so easy and sooo yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe Katia!
I’m so pleased! Thank you for your feedback, Harvey.
Have a great weekend. x
I’m planning to try this recipe and wondered if I can use Sun Dried Tomato Puree (I’ve found one everyone loves and I keep a good stock of) in place of sun dried tomatoes (which I don’t always have)?
I love your website and am working my way through your recipes, and trying your product recommendations, so thank you!
for some reason I missed your comment yesterday and I’m replying only now, sorry!
I think you can use a little sun dried tomato paste, especially if you love the taste. However, I think 1 Tbsp of paste should be fine, not 1/3 cup as stated for the whole sun dried tomatoes.
Cheers : )