Refreshing, nutty and zesty, this Arugula & Pistachio Basil Pesto is perfect for spring and summer.

Photo of pesto pasta in a white bowl on a wood tableI’ve been dreaming of sawdust and paint colors this past week since we officially got the keys to our new place. It’s a cute little 2½ bedroom on a quiet street (the ‘burb life, amiright?!). I say two and a half because technically there isn’t a closet in one of the rooms. But I’ve been living in an apartment room, sans closet, for a year, so I count that as a room. However, when your boyfriend is an architect…he knows the technicalities better than you do. I compromised.

Within 5 minutes of being in the house, Mr. Destruction had some of the floors torn up and a hole in the ceiling, because you have to know if it’s load bearing, ya know? I was over in the corner trying to disguise my hyperventilating as allergies. I can already see how these next few months will affect my sanity.

My favorite part of this 1940’s house is the upstairs attic-turned master. It’s a pretty large space with a walk-in closet that I’ve been waiting my whole life for. I’m not exaggerating when I say every place I’ve lived has had a shoe box-closet — and that’s eight places! If you don’t believe me, ask my mom. Mom? Mom? Bueller?

Pistachio & Arugula Basil Pesto + 4 Ways to Use PestoAs a toast to Chip & Joanna, we’re planning to brighten up the attic space with a fresh coat of white paint and some shiplap. Otherwise, first on the docket is to paint errathing, new floors, baseboards and crown molding, renovating the bathroom completely, opening up the kitchen into the little dining room, and a few other random finishes here and there. We He has a list of things he’d love to update (i.e. add-on photo studio behind the garage), but we’re trying to be realistic.

I’ve realized, since we only have a few months before moving in, I really need to up my dinner game. I’m not sure if zoodles or massive salads will qualify as a meal for Greg. But he did mention his love for pesto a while ago.

This Pistachio & Arugula Basil Pesto will undoubtedly become commonplace in our refrigerator. I ate off a batch of this for a whole week; I tossed it with brown rice pasta and roasted tomatoes, mixed it with a splash of vinegar for a vinaigrette, and stirred it into some mashed avocado for a pasta/zoodle sauce. The options really are endless when it comes to pesto, and this Pistachio & Arugula Basil Pesto is no different. It’s nutty, salty, and lemony; darn near addictive.

I developed this Arugula & Pistachio Basil Pesto recipe with April’s Recipe ReDux theme in mind: easy ways to reduce food waste. The recipe calls for basil, arugula, and lemon zest. For the basil, instead of using just the leaves, throw in the thick stems as well, they also add flavor! Same goes for the arugula, don’t “stem” those delicate leaves, I don’t usually anyway, but I know people who do. And regarding the lemon zest, I always try to use everything from citrus. If I only need the juice, I’ll zest the fruit first and save it for another use, and visa versa. 

Photo of pesto pasta in a white bowl on a wood table5 Ways to Use Pesto:

Pesto + Pasta

Toss pesto with preferred cooked pasta (I like to use brown rice pasta) plus 2–3 tablespoons pasta cooking water for a saucy consistency. Broil or roast some tomatoes until blistered to serve on the side and garnish with grated parmesan.

Avocado-Pesto Zoodles

Mash some avocado until smooth then stir in a few spoonfuls of pesto. Briefly cook spiralized zucchini in a nonstick pan just until tender but still toothsome. Off heat, add avocado-pesto mash and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan.

Pesto Vinaigrette

Add about 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar to 2–3 tablespoons pesto. Whisk to incorporate and thin with additional lemon juice or water to desired consistency. Drizzle over salad.

Charcuterie Board

Add a bowl of this pesto to your favorite charcuterie spread. It’s great spread on crackers and bread.  

Crostini / Dipper

Toast thick-sliced good multi-grain bread until golden. Spread some pesto on one side of each slice, top with grated Parmesan and broil until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with soup, salad, or dip in olive oil.

More Pistachio Recipes to Try

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Pistachio & Arugula Basil Pesto + 5 Ways to Use Pesto

Pistachio & Arugula Basil Pesto

  • Author: Zestful Kitchen
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 1¼ cups 1x


  • 4 cups lightly packed arugula
  • 1½ cups lightly packed basil
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup raw pistachios
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


Process arugula, basil, Parmesan, pistachios, garlic, zest, and juice in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With processor running, add oil in a steady stream until incorporated and smooth; season with salt and pepper.


Use as preferred or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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  1. So excited to try this pesto! Not only does using basil stems prevent food waste but it will save lots of time from stemming!

  2. I love all different kinds of pesto but never found a good recipe for a pistachio one. Can’t wait to try. Love your new house!!

  3. I love pesto and arugula so this sounds like the perfect recipe for me! Your house looks so great, exciting to finally get to move in soon!!

  4. Thank you for an awesome recipe! For a larger, garlicky, less oily batch, I multiplied basil, arugula and pistachio by 1.5, garlic by 3, lemon juice by 2, but kept oil at 1/4 cup and cheese at 3/4 cup. Fantastic flavors.

  5. Wow. Bright, peppery, and full of flavour. Definitely a keeper. I had it with roasted tomatoes and garlic with strozzapreti pasta. I think this would be amazing as a marinade on white fish or mixed in with a roasted potato salad.

    Will make again 🙂

    1. Hi Ky! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the pesto! That pizza sounds absolutely delicious. Love the idea of using it on white fish!