Spicy Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto has become my favorite pesto. Something about the pepperiness of it (vs. the sweetness of the typical basil pesto). We decided to jazz it up a little by adding a bit of fresh red chili pepper. We added just enough that it gave a slight kick. We really enjoyed it and will definitely be making this again.

We mixed some of the pesto with some pasta and then topped sliced grilled chicken with the remainder of the pesto. Keep in mind, this is not a classic pesto recipe (in terms of the proportions).


5 cups (give or take) of arugula

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

3/4 – 1 cup olive oil

1/2 red chili pepper (roughly chopped and seeded)

1 cup grated fresh parmigiano-reggiano (don’t use the powdered Kraft stuff)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound pasta (your choice)

2 grilled chicken breasts (boneless)


Put water on to boil for the pasta. Heat grill (or grill pan) for chicken breasts. Season breasts with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside. Once the water boils, salt the water and add the pasta. Place chicken on grill when heated up. Grill chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put arugula, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano cheese, and red chili pepper along with pinch of salt and pepper into the a food processor. Once blended, slowly add olive oil through the top until the pesto becomes smooth and loose.  Taste and add salt if you think it needs it. If you like yours spicier, add the more chili pepper.

Once the pasta is done, reserve about 1/2 a cup of pasta water and then drain. Pour pasta back into pot and mix with about half of the pesto. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water. Slice the chicken once it has rested. Plate pasta on each plate/bowl and place chicken on top of pasta. Top chicken with some of the pesto….then eat and enjoy!

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