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Perfect Rocket Basil Pesto


basil rocket pesto recipe

Recipe: Basil Rocket Pesto

In the wake of my preparations for the upcoming trip to Italy in, I find myself cooking a lot of Italian inspired dishes. I don’t know if that kind of thing happens to anyone else while travel planning but as a result I am posting an adaptation of one of Italy’s famous food exports – a gorgeous, emerald green pesto.

Traditionally, pesto is made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. It comes from Genoa, in the Liguria region of Italy, and is often called pesto all a genovese as to not to be confused with many modern varieties of pesto. My recipe is includes an addition of rocket (arugula) for a little mustard kick and lemon for some zing.

Pesto is such a versatile condiment to keep on hand. I often use it to marinate fish and meat before grilling or to drizzle over cooked lamb cutlets and roast chicken. You can toss it through steamed vegetables or salads, jazz up your scrambled eggs and omelettes, or use as a dip for a snack. Plus, this little sauce is super healthy with lots of vitamin K, A, C and monounsaturated fats.

Cooking notes: I just threw in raw pine nuts but you can pre-toast them in the oven or in a frying pan before grinding. You can use other herbs like parsley, oregano, sage and thyme to create new flavours.


  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup firmly packed rocket (arugula), wild rocket is ideal
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sealing
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (cashews or blanched almonds can also be used)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • 2/3 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp aged Parmesan, finely grated (optional)


  1. You can use a food processor, an electric grinder or a more traditional mortar and pestle. If using mortar and pestle, pound garlic and pine nuts tougher first before adding herbs and olive oil.
  2. If using a food processor or an electric grinder, combine basil, rocket, pine nuts, garlic, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Process until smooth and then add and incorporate grated parmesan if you want to include it. It’s just as delicious without.
  3. Store in a clean, air-tight jar or container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to seal in the mix. Pesto should keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Number of servings: 200-250gm

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  1. I have never seen rocket added to pesto before. I have made my own pesto for a long time, I am excited to try the rocket in it. Loving that I stumbled on this website. Thanks!

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