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July 07, 2021 3 min read

a bowl of fresh pesto made from arugula, with flowers as decor

How to Make Fresh Garden Pesto 

If you are a gardener like we are, some items in your spring garden may be starting to bolt (or go to seed). Usually, this is a disappointment for a gardener, because we often plant these varieties for their tender leaves before they go to seed. It is a sign that this plant's life is coming to an end and change is coming.
We got the idea for this blog post when our arugula began to flower. This means the leaves get spicier, and the plant gets taller with more emphasis on height, buds and flowers. When an herb in your garden transitions into this phase, and is no longer ideal for salads or other dishes where tender, more mild leaves are best, pesto is a great use for them! 

Often we think of “pesto” as a sauce made with basil, and used with food like pasta, pizza and other Italian cuisine. We encourage you to branch out ;) with your thinking! The basic pesto recipe included in this post is delicious, whichever garden plants you decide to use: arugula, cilantro, parsley, or kale to name a few. We’re sure there are other excellent options out there! Similarly, pine nuts often dominate the pesto world, but other nuts work as great substitutes and probably are more common in your kitchen pantry. Walnuts happen to be our favorite with arugula, but we encourage you to experiment with what you have, find your favorite!

We used the leaves, flowers, and stems from our garden arugula that had started to bolt. 


Here is what you will need: 

blender for making pesto, with arugula leaves and flowers, cheese, and walnuts

A blender or food processor and the following ingredients.

Homemade Pesto Recipe

•  ⅓  cup olive oil
•  4 cups fresh leaves and/or flowers, lightly packed 
•  3 peeled garlic cloves 
•  ⅓ cup parmesan cheese or sharp cheddar (for a vegan option, substitute with more finely chopped nuts)
•  ⅓ cup walnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts or cashews
•  Juice from half a lemon
•  ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)

      artisan pizza made with garden fresh arugula pesto

      Making Pesto 

      Step 1)  Measure your ingredients and add to the food processor in the order the ingredients are listed in.

      Step 2) Turn your food processor up slowly to medium, and stop and stir if needed until everything is blended to a nice smooth consistency. We like to aim for it to be just slightly grainy. 

      Step 3) Taste your pesto! This is a great step to tweak the ingredients to your liking. Salt is an important component that will bring out the flavor, as well as lemon juice. If you feel like it is lacking in flavor, try adding a bit more of one of these ingredients.

      Step 4) If you aren’t going to use your pesto right away, drizzle a layer of olive oil over the top to keep it from oxidizing. You can also use a layer of cling wrap, and gently press down to make sure there is no air.

      Enjoy!! Use in the same way as you like to enjoy store bought pesto: on pasta! pizza! as a sandwich spread! Take a photo of your fresh garden pesto feast & tag us! 

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      Keep Your Pollinators Happy

      peaceful garden of flowering arugula plants

      We also recommend leaving some of these herbs flowering in your garden as food for your local pollinators. In the Pacific Northwest region where we are located, flowering kale, radish, arugula, parsley and cilantro can all serve as excellent flowers for bees to harvest before other summer varieties start blooming in abundance. If you leave them long enough, be sure to collect the seeds so you can start your next crop with seeds from your very own garden!

      🌱  New to gardening and not sure where to start? Try ourDIY Tea Herb Garden Kit, the growing process is rewarding, and so is the result!

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