Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spicy Pesto

We love pasta in our household and are always looking for new twists to keep things tasty and interesting. So the second we saw this recipe featured on Food Network we knew we had to try it. This particular pesto is packed with bold and unique flavors that creates an unbelievable blend of deliciousness. Seriously, I started nibbling on it by the spoonful while I waited for the pasta to cook!

It's made with spinach, arugula, walnuts, garlic, cheese, oil, and is kicked up a notch with a jalapeno. The rich arugula flavor comes through nicely without being bitter, and the spiciness was perfect. If you're worried about the heat being too powerful, omit the seeds from the pepper. And if you're serving this with pasta, pick a noodle that has ridges or curves (fusilli, penne, rigatoni, rotini, etc.) so the sauce can stick and cling to the pasta.

The recipe below makes plenty of pesto, so freeze leftovers in an ice cube tray with olive oil drizzled over it. Once frozen, pop them out and continue freezing the cubes in a Ziploc bag—they'll be perfect for nights when you need a quick and easy meal!

Spicy Pesto


  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped (omit seeds for milder flavor)
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan/Reggiano cheese (Asiago or regular Parmesan works great, too)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a food processor*, combine walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add spinach and arugula and process until blended. With machine running, gradually the olive oil.  

*We used a 14-cup processor and had to smash the spinach and arugula in there, so if you have a smaller food processor you may need to make it in a couple batches.


  1. This pesto sounds wonderful. Love the addition of jalapeno. I'll give this a try the next time I make pesto.
    Have a great day.

  2. i'm surprised you haven't made a green chile pesto!

  3. Natalie, funny you should mention that! We were going to make this with green chile, but decided not to since it has such a distinct flavor; we thought it may overpower the flavor of the whole thing all together. Jalapenos are more about the heat. With that said, I've been thinking about making a sun-dried tomato and green chile pesto!

  4. I really need to make this. I LOVE pesto but have never been successful at home. My favorite pesto ever was on a caprese bruschetta and it was a walnut pesto too. THE WALNUT ADDS THE BEST FLAVOR EVER. It's so much nuttier and richer and so much more interesting. I love you pine nuts but seriously... go walnut. I can't wait to try this.

  5. Oh I've never thought to add jalapeno to my pest. That sounds fabulous!


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