SPOONING, Holiday Party Edition–Arugula Pesto

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

This past weekend, I hosted the kind of dinner party that required multiple days of prep work and Google spreadsheets to organize all the cooking. I cannot overemphasize how much satisfaction this gives me; seriously, the hours in the kitchen are just as pleasurable as the hours spent with one’s friends. As many veteran hosts can attest, the key is to prepare the dishes ahead of time so that uncorking the wine is the hardest task to do once the guests arrive.

One of the crowd favorites was an arugula-based pesto, which might seem out of place among the much heavier Thanksgiving-inspired dishes. Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that a pesto can only be made when fresh basil is in season and that we must use expensive pine nuts. Not true. As long as you add enough garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, you can make a pesto that is relatively inexpensive and luxurious, no matter the season.

Arugula Pesto

10 minutes. Makes 2.5 cups


1 package (5 ounces) arugula

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1 cup slivered almonds

3 cloves garlic

Juice from 1 lemon

2/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch of pepper


Add all the ingredients in a food processor and give it a whirl for a minute or two. It’s that easy. (Note that this is a very flexible recipe and that you should increase or lessen ingredients to taste.)

Want to take it to the next level? Try toasting the almonds and garlic cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. In my opinion, this adds a nuttier aroma and cuts out the bite of fresh garlic, creating a warmer and mellower flavor.

Recipe and photograph by Michael Liang

Read Related Posts...