Arugula pesto and cooking class

In the past month or so I have been volunteering for these cooking classes at this awesome place called Kitchen in the Market at the Minneapolis Midtown global market.  I  always have a great time there. Even when I’m doing dishes. So today I went and took one of their classes. It was a class about “preserving the bounty” and Chef Scott Pampuch and Stephanie Mayer from Fresh Tart taught us a bit about pickling, salting, blending and otherwise preserving all the wonderful vegetables we will get in the next few months.

And the class was great fun!

We learned about making flavored salt with ramps and nettles and morel mushrooms. We learned about “passive” and oven drying. We learned about pickling liquid and how long we can store pickles. We learned about preserving radishes in butter and about making pesto. And we learned that the best place to buy the necessary gear for pickling is fleet farm.

Then we got to work and we produced the bounty you can see here: from top ramp salt, pickled ramp, arugula pesto and pickled radishes. And we all got samples of everything to take home with us.

Now, if you are in Minneapolis, and you are interested in learning about storing and preserving, check out the Kitchen in the Market website. They will offer two more classes for this series and they seem to be well worth your time. I for one am planning on heading to fleet farm to get the jars and then start canning.

Of the things we did during class, I was responsible for arugula pesto. As usual when it comes down to cooking I cannot bring myself to follow a recipe. I might read the list of ingredients, but ultimately I use the recipe much more as a guideline than as real instructions. And with something like pesto you should do too!

So I made arugula pesto. I started out with the arugula and added the other ingredients try the pesto after every addition. At the end of the whole process there was something missing. The pesto was just too grassy and herby. I was kind of at a loss. And then chef Pampuch came to the rescue and suggested to add lemon zest which gave it a bit of brightness and then some honey which took away some of the bitterness from the nuts. And then we let it sit and develop its flavor. And then it was awesome spread on flat bread.

I only have two pieces of advice for pesto: 1) keep it pasty it is healthier, cheaper, tastier, stores better and you can always thin it out when you serve it; and 2) go easy on the garlic. For the rest is just add everything a bit at a time starting from the herb you use as a base or the pesto.

Arugula pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Arugula pesto


  • 4-6 cups arugula
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cups pecan nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon (zest + juice)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Start blending the arugula with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp of pecan nuts. Keep blending until you have an arugula paste. If necessary add another bit of oil, but you want it to be a paste.
  2. Add about 2 spoons cheese and keep blending. Taste and adjust adding more nuts/parmesan as needed.
  3. Add the lemon zest, half of the juice and the honey and blend again. Taste and add more lemon if needed.
  4. Salt to taste and use to dress pasta or spread on bread.
  5. Preserve in the freezer or in the fridge covering with a bit of oil to avoit it getting dry.

By the way, KITM didn’t pay me or offered me anything for writing this post. I’m just giving you my honest opinion.

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18 Responses to Arugula pesto and cooking class

  1. I have never before heard of arugula, but I will seek it out. I LOVE pesto, this sounds great 🙂

  2. Kat says:

    Sounds like an awesome cooking class. I have serious problems following other recipes too, and always go by taste. I’ve had pesto come out tasting grassy – so I was glad to learn your tip to add the lemon zest and honey!

  3. This looks so fresh and vibrant! I am growing some Arugala at the moment so I will be definitely be making this once I have enough!

  4. I saw arugula pesto recipe before and was planning to try. This really looks good and arugula is actually more accessible (I always have in the fridge) than basil for me. =) I must try this soon. Have a great long weekend Paula!

  5. Suzi says:

    Oh I am in love with arugula and am dying to make an arugula pesto. This sounds wonderful. I may have to give this a try tomorrow. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

  6. Frank says:

    Preserving food is something that I haven’t yet explored, but it’s always fascinated me. My grandmother always put tomatoes up for the winter (of course!) but the art died out with her… As for arugula pesto, that’s another new one for me, but it sounds very nice. I’ll have to try it some time.

    • PolaM says:

      I’m getting into it… Most of it has been jams so far and I have experimented with tomato sauce… But I plan on moving onto pickling and full scale tomato sauce canning this summer!

  7. I love taking cooking classes! They are so much fun.

    This pesto looks amazing, what a color! I’m going to recreate it, I have pesto on my mind these past couple of days!

    ps Sorry, I just saw your comment on the tiramisu 🙁

  8. Bella l’idea di questo pesto!proverò assolutamente?

  9. What a fun class! I adore arugula and this pesto would be wonderful 🙂

  10. wok with ray says:

    I love Arugula and of course I love pesto, so the combination of both is a great idea, Pola! Looks like you had a lot of fun in that cooking class. Have a great weekend!

    ~ ray ~

  11. Alida says:

    This is completely new to me. I like this dish. Well done for going to cookery classes. I always wanted to do it too. If I find the time.. I will one day!

  12. I adore the arugula pesto…Nice to preserve the seasonal bounty for the later use. Gotta try the lemon juice trick next time when I make arugula pesto.

  13. I love arugula and I love pesto… I’ve seen this done but don’t think I’ve ever had it. Excited to try! Thanks.

    • PolaM says:

      I think it was also my first time. Turns out arugula is quite difficult to turn into pesto… and I have to thank Chef Pampuch for giving me the winning advice of adding a bit of lemon.

  14. Ramona says:

    This must just be utterly fabulous!! I love the idea of arugula in pesto form. 🙂 Have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!! ~ Ramona

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