Authentic Vegan Lemon Arugula Pest Recipe With A Unique Blend Of Aromas

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is a refreshing twist on a classic. Remember, arugula adds a peppery kick, while lemon zest brightens the flavor. Typically, this pesto is packed with wholesome ingredients. If you decide on a fresh topping for pasta or bread, this may help elevate your dish. My advice is to try it on a warm summer day for a delightful taste. Ensure your ingredients are fresh for the best results. It’s a great way to elevate your meals.

Many food enthusiasts, including myself, often find a way to incorporate the vibrant flavors of our travels into everyday dishes.

On my last trip through the Middle Eastern and European regions, I was struck by the rich, aromatic sauces that enhanced even the simplest of meals. 

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

The key to these flavors? Fresh, local ingredients. However, back home, when faced with the challenge of recreating such vibrant flavors, many falter.

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is the answer. I first encountered this delightful sauce in a quaint Italian eatery and was instantly smitten. 

A dear friend of mine from Beirut once shared her twist on it, adding a zesty Middle Eastern flair. It’s been a hit at home, especially when my kids request something “a little different” for dinner. 

This pesto isn’t just a sauce; it’s a journey of flavors, ensuring your dishes transport you back to those beautiful cobblestone streets and bustling markets.

What Is Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is a vibrant, dairy-free alternative to traditional pesto sauces. The key to its unique flavor is the combination of peppery arugula and zesty lemon.

Typically, it consists of arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, nuts, and olive oil blended into a smooth sauce. 

Remember, while traditional pestos often rely on basil and Parmesan, this version offers a tangy, fresh twist. Whether choosing it for dietary reasons or simply craving a change, this pesto is a great way to flavor your dishes. 

History Of Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe

The origins of pesto trace back to Genoa, Italy, where basil-based pesto was a staple. As people started to find a way to adjust traditional recipes based on dietary needs and regional ingredients, variations emerged. 

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is one such adaptation. While it’s difficult to pinpoint who exactly invented it, it’s clear that the inspiration stems from vegan communities desiring a dairy-free alternative

By eliminating the cheese and introducing arugula and lemon, a new, zesty version was born. This modern twist may not have a single inventor but is a testament to the culinary innovations that arise from merging tradition with contemporary needs.

Interesting Facts About Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe

Delve into the intriguing world of our Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe. Here are some interesting facts about the recipe:


Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is typically packed with vitamins A and C, thanks to the fresh arugula and lemon.


This pesto can elevate various dishes. If you’re deciding on a new pizza sauce or sandwich spread, this may help.

Quick Prep

One great way to save time in the kitchen is using this pesto; it usually takes under 10 minutes to make.


You can freeze Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe in ice cube trays, ensuring your sauce remains fresh for months.

Nuts Variety

While pine nuts are common in traditional pesto, cashews or almonds can also be used in this vegan version.

Spice Variations

Some enthusiasts add a touch of chili or black pepper for an extra kick.

Lemon’s Role

Beyond flavor, lemon acts as a preservative, extending the pesto’s shelf life.

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

  • Middle-Eastern Twist: Incorporating tahini or pomegranate molasses for a deeper, tangy profile.
  • Asian Fusion: Some add ginger or lemongrass, blending the pesto’s tang with Asian aromatics.
  • Mexican Flair: A dash of jalapeño or cilantro gives a spicy, fresh spin.
  • Mediterranean Meld: Incorporating olives or sun-dried tomatoes brings a Mediterranean taste.
  • Indian Inspiration: A hint of curry powder or turmeric introduces a warm, earthy note.
  • European Elegance: Dill or capers might be included, reminiscent of northern European flavors.

What Will Make You Love This Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

  • Unique Flavor: The tang of lemon combined with peppery arugula creates a taste you won’t forget.
  • Versatility: It’s a great way to enhance pasta, salads, and sandwiches.
  • Health Benefits: Arugula is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, ensuring your dish isn’t just tasty and nutritious.
  • Quick to Prepare: If you decide on a last-minute dish, this pesto can rescue you.
  • Customizable: You can adjust ingredients according to personal preferences.
  • Eco-Friendly: Vegan choices typically have a lower carbon footprint.
  • Allergen-Friendly: Without dairy, it may be suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Ingredients List

Fresh Arugula4 cups
Olive Oil2/3 cup
Pine Nuts1/4 cup
Nutritional Yeast2 tbsps.
Garlic Cloves2
Lemon Juice1 tbsp.
Salt1/2 tsp.
Ground Black Pepper1/4 tsp.

Ingredient Tips 

  • Arugula Freshness: Ensure your arugula is crisp. Wilted leaves can impact the pesto’s flavor and texture.
  • Olive Oil Quality: Use extra-virgin olive oil for a richer taste and smoother texture.
  • Pine Nut Alternatives: If you’re deciding on a substitute, almonds or cashews are great alternatives.
  • Nutritional Yeast: Remember, this adds a cheesy flavor. Store in a cool, dark place to maintain its taste.
  • Garlic: Fresh cloves are key to a robust flavor. Avoid jarred or pre-minced versions.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed is typically best, offering a brighter tang than bottled versions.
  • Salt & Pepper: Adjust to taste. Start with the mentioned quantities and add more if necessary.

What Are The Variations Of Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

  • Nuts: Beyond pine nuts, you can use walnuts, almonds, or cashews for a different texture and flavor.
  • Herbs: Add fresh basil or parsley to the arugula mix for a more layered herbaceous note.
  • Spice Kick: Incorporate red pepper flakes or a small chili to introduce a hint of heat.
  • Citrus: Replace lemon with lime or orange for a unique citrus twist.
  • Oil Choices: Avocado or walnut oil can be alternatives to olive oil, changing the pesto’s profile.
  • Veggies: Sun-dried tomatoes or roasted bell peppers can add depth and color.
  • Umami Boost: Incorporate miso paste or tamari for an umami touch.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • Begin by ensuring all your ingredients are measured and prepped.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, and black pepper. Pulse a few times to chop and combine roughly.
  • Add the arugula to the processor. Pulse until the arugula is coarsely chopped.
  • While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Continue processing until the mixture becomes smooth and well-combined.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Elevate your dishes with Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto—a green, tangy masterpiece that adds a burst of flavor to every bite.

Scaling The Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe 

Scaling recipes, especially for sauces like Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe, is straightforward. Here’s how you can adjust:

Doubling The Recipe

  • If you’re hosting a larger gathering, simply double each ingredient. For instance, instead of 4 cups of arugula, use 8 cups. Remember to process in batches if your food processor is small.

Halving The Recipe

  • Perfect for a smaller serving. Use half of each ingredient’s listed quantity. For example, use 2 cups of arugula instead of 4.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads?

  • Marinade: Its robust flavor can penetrate and tenderize ingredients. Use it for tofu, tempeh, or vegetables before grilling or baking.
  • Dipping Sauce: Its creamy consistency makes it a great way to accompany bread, crackers, or raw veggies. If you decide on an appetizer, this sauce adds a zesty touch.
  • Dressing for Salads: To use as a dressing, you may want to thin it slightly with additional olive oil or a splash of water. It pairs beautifully with mixed greens, roasted vegetables, or grain-based salads.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?


Whole wheat spaghetti or penne becomes special with this pesto.


Use it as a base sauce for a Mediterranean-themed pizza.

Grilled Vegetables

Zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant are elevated with a pesto drizzle.


Spread on toast for a refreshing panini or wrap.

Grain Bowls

Quinoa, bulgur, or farro bowls with roasted veggies are enhanced by this sauce.

Roasted Potatoes

Drizzle or mix in for a zesty side dish.

Stuffed Peppers Or Tomatoes

Fill these veggies with a mixture containing the pesto for a delightful dish.

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

  • Vegan Pesto Pasta: A simple dish with pesto mixed with spaghetti or linguine.
  • Pesto Veggie Pizza: Replacing traditional tomato sauce with this pesto for a tangy base.
  • Grilled Tofu Steaks: Marinated in pesto for a rich, herbal flavor.
  • Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms: Large mushrooms filled with a blend of breadcrumbs and pesto.
  • Pesto Grain Salad: Featuring quinoa or barley, cherry tomatoes, and olives.
  • Pesto Crostini: Toasted baguette slices topped with a dollop of pesto and diced tomatoes.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe Offers?

  • Tangy: The lemon juice imparts a zesty, bright note.
  • Peppery: Arugula’s inherent spiciness gives the pesto a peppery kick.
  • Nutty: Pine nuts and nutritional yeast contribute a nutty depth.
  • Rich: Olive oil adds a smooth, luxurious mouthfeel.
  • Savory: Garlic infuses the pesto with a savory undertone.
  • Umami: Nutritional yeast typically introduces a cheesy, umami essence.
  • Herbaceous: Fresh arugula adds a green, leafy aroma and taste.
  • Slightly Bitter: Arugula, a cruciferous vegetable, also has a mild bitterness.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

  • Refrigeration: In an airtight container, the pesto typically lasts 5-7 days. Drizzling a thin layer of olive oil on top before sealing can help prevent oxidation and maintain its vibrant color.
  • Freezing: To extend its life, you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. This method allows easy portioning and can last up to 3-4 months.
  • Shelf Life: It’s best consumed fresh, but when stored correctly in the freezer, it can be used for several months.

What Are The Substitutes For Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

  • Classic Basil Pesto: Made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil, minus the cheese for a vegan version.
  • Kale Pesto: Swap arugula for kale, adding a hearty, earthy flavor.
  • Spinach Pesto: A milder option using fresh spinach.
  • Sundried Tomato Pesto: Offers a rich, tangy flavor.
  • Walnut Parsley Pesto: Use walnuts and parsley for a nuttier and fresh herbal touch.
  • Avocado Pesto: Creamy and rich, it blends avocado with basil and lemon.
  • Olive Tapenade: A mix of olives, capers, and olive oil can be a tangier alternative.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

  • Thicker: Add more arugula, pine nuts, or even a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Pulse until the desired thickness is achieved.
  • Thinner: Drizzle in additional olive oil while processing. If you want to reduce the oil content, adding a bit of water or lemon juice can also thin it out.
  • Creamier: Incorporate a ripe avocado or a splash of vegan unsweetened milk to achieve a creamier consistency.
  • Chunkier: Pulse the ingredients fewer times in the food processor or hand chop some ingredients for added texture.

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto brings a burst of zesty freshness, proving that plant-based cuisine can be both healthy and indulgent.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe can be served both cold and warm, depending on the dish:


  • It is ideal as a dipping sauce, salad dressing, or sandwich spread. Serving it cold maintains its vibrant green color and fresh, peppery notes from the arugula.


  • When mixed with hot pasta, the pesto naturally warms up, melding with the pasta and giving a comforting feel.
  • If you use it as a sauce for warm dishes like grilled vegetables or tofu, a gentle heat enhances its aromatic profile.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Nutritional Values

The Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe is rich in healthy fats from olive oil, offers protein from pine nuts, and provides a good dose of vitamins and minerals from arugula and lemon. It’s a flavorful way to incorporate essential nutrients into your diet.

What Are The Total Calories In Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe?

You’d typically need the specific quantities and brands of ingredients used and then use a nutrition calculator. For this recipe, a batch could contain roughly 800-900 calories.

Remember, individual servings would be significantly less, and values can vary based on specific products and quantities.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe

  • Vegan: Contains no animal products.
  • Vegetarian: Suitable as it doesn’t include meat.
  • Gluten-Free: No wheat or gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Dairy-Free: Lacks milk products; nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavor without cheese.
  • Nut-Free: If you eliminate pine nuts due to allergies, replace them with seeds like sunflower or pumpkin.
  • Low-Carb: Primarily consists of fats and proteins; minimal carbohydrates.
  • Sugar-Free: No added sugars or sweeteners.
  • Soy-Free: No soy products included.

Nutrition Table

Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Overprocessing: This can make the pesto too smooth. It’s ideal to retain some texture, ensuring the pesto is hearty and not overly puréed.
  • Using Old Ingredients: Arugula that isn’t fresh can impact the vibrancy of the sauce. Similarly, rancid nuts or old olive oil can introduce off flavors.
  • Skimping on Lemon: Lemon adds a zesty kick. Not adding enough can result in a flat-tasting pesto.
  • Over-salting: It’s key to season judiciously and taste as you go. Remember, you can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away.
  • Not Adjusting Ingredients: If you find the pesto too thick or thin, adjust with more oil or arugula accordingly.
  • Skipping Nutritional Yeast: For vegans, this ingredient adds a cheesy note. Omitting it can make the sauce lack depth.
  • Not Storing Properly: Exposure to air can cause the pesto to oxidize and lose its vibrant color. Ensure your storage method minimizes air exposure.
  • Heating Excessively: If you’re using the pesto in a hot dish, avoid cooking it directly, as it can diminish the fresh flavors and alter its color.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

  • Pizza Base: Replace tomato sauce with pesto for a fresh twist.
  • Bruschetta: Spread on toasted bread top with diced tomatoes.
  • Sandwich Spread: Elevates any sandwich or wrap.
  • Stir into Soups: Gives soups an aromatic and flavorful boost.
  • Dressing: Thin out with some vinegar for a salad dressing.
  • Baked Goods: Swirl into bread dough before baking.
  • Tofu Marinade: Marinate tofu or tempeh before grilling.
  • Stuffed Vegetables: Mix with grains and stuff into bell peppers or mushrooms.
  • Omelet: Add to omelets or vegan scrambles.
  • Grain Bowls: Drizzle over quinoa, rice, or couscous bowls.
Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Food Processor: Essential for blending the ingredients to the desired consistency.
  • Sharp Knife: To finely chop garlic or any additions.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensures you add the right amount of each ingredient.
  • Rubber Spatula: Helps in scraping down the sides of the processor for even blending.
  • Glass Jars with Lids: Ideal for storing the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Mixing Bowl: Useful if you mix in any additional ingredients or adjust seasoning.
  • Citrus Juicer or Reamer: Ensures you extract maximum lemon juice without seeds.
  • Grater or Zester: Add lemon zest for extra lemony punch.
  • Tasting Spoons: To adjust seasoning as you go.
  • Airtight Containers: For freezing portions of pesto.

Frequently Asked Questions  

Can I Substitute Another Nut For Pine Nuts?

Yes, you can. While pine nuts offer a unique flavor, walnuts, cashews, or almonds can be substituted. Each nut will impart a different taste, so choose based on your preference.

Why Is My Pesto Turning Brown?

Pesto can oxidize when exposed to air, leading to a brownish color. To prevent this, ensure it’s stored in an airtight container and topped with a thin layer of olive oil. This protective layer helps minimize air exposure, retaining its vibrant green color.

Do I Have To Use Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast gives the pesto a cheesy flavor, making it a popular vegan choice. However, if you’re not concerned about keeping it vegan, you can replace it with grated Parmesan cheese or omit it based on your taste.

Is There A Way To Make The Pesto Less Tangy?

The tanginess comes from the lemon juice. If the pesto is too tangy, reduce the lemon juice in the recipe or balance it with more olive oil and salt.

How Can I Use Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe In My Meals?

This pesto is incredibly versatile. It can be spread on sandwiches, swirled into soups, used as a base for pizzas, tossed with pasta, or served as a dip with fresh veggies or bread. Explore and find your favorite way to incorporate it into your meals.

Authentic Vegan Lemon Arugula Pest Recipe With A Unique Blend Of Aromas

0 from 0 votes
Course: Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time





A zesty Vegan Lemon Arugula Pesto Recipe combining the peppery kick of arugula with the brightness of lemon. Rich olive oil, savory nutritional yeast, and pine nuts meld together, creating a fresh, flavorful sauce perfect for many dishes.


  • 4 cups 4 Fresh arugula

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 Olive oil

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Pine nuts

  • 2 tbsps. 2 Nutritional yeast

  • 2 2 Garlic cloves

  • 1 tbsp. 1 Lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp. 1/2 Salt

  • 1/4 tsp. 1/4 Ground black pepper

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation
    Wash the Arugula: Begin by thoroughly washing the fresh arugula leaves under cool running water. Use a salad spinner or pat dry with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
    Peel the Garlic: Using the flat side of your knife, gently press on the garlic cloves to crack the skin, making them easier to peel.
    Toasting the Pine Nuts (Optional but recommended for enhanced flavor):
    Place a small skillet on medium heat.
    Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring frequently until they’re lightly golden. This typically takes about 2-3 minutes.
    Remove from heat and allow them to cool.
  • Blending
    In the bowl of your food processor, add the peeled garlic cloves, salt, ground black pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until the garlic is roughly chopped.
    Add the toasted pine nuts and nutritional yeast to the processor.
    Now, add the arugula in batches, pulsing after each addition to ensure everything is combined.
    While the processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil until all ingredients are well combined, and you achieve a smooth yet slightly textured consistency.
  • Tasting and Adjusting
    Use a tasting spoon to check the pesto’s flavor. Adjust the seasoning if needed. If the pesto is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil to reach your desired consistency.
  • Storing
    Transfer the finished pesto to a glass jar or airtight container. If you plan to store it for a while, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation and maintain its vibrant green color.
    Secure the lid and refrigerate. Remember, the pesto can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for longer use.
  • Serving
    Before using, give the pesto a good stir. If you’re using it for pasta, you may find a way to incorporate a bit of the pasta water to make it saucier.

Recipe Video


  • Ensure arugula is thoroughly washed and dried to avoid a watery pesto.
  • If using it as a pasta sauce, reserve some pasta water to adjust consistency if needed.
  • For a nuttier flavor, consider toasting the pine nuts briefly before blending.
  • Adjust seasoning after blending, as flavors can intensify.
  • If storing, top with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent discoloration.
  • It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for a longer shelf life.

Hearty Meat Sauce Recipe

Did you know a Hearty Meat Sauce Recipe can elevate any pasta dish? Pay attention to its rich flavors and texture.

Baked Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This Baked Cranberry Sauce combines fresh cranberries’ tartness with white sugar’s sweetness, finished with a touch of brandy for depth.

Toffee Sauce Recipe

Toffee Sauce Recipe is a rich, buttery blend boasting deep caramel notes accentuated by the gentle touch of vanilla.

Carrot And Ginger Chutney Recipe

This Carrot And Ginger Chutney melds the sweetness of carrots with the zesty kick of ginger.

Carrot And Ginger Chutney Recipe

Leave a Comment

Author picture


Welcome, fellow flavor enthusiasts to the world of Sauce Chick, where every flavor tells a tale of creativity, passion, and the harmonious fusion of spices and sauces.

More About Me