Condiments Low Calorie Main Dish Pasta

Arugula Pesto

May 13, 2013

Pestos are great. Yes, there’s the traditional one with basil and pine nuts, but you really can get quite creative. I’ve made a mint pesto and even a broccoli pesto. The possibilities are endless really. In all of those varieties, I’ve used olive oil. It never occurred to me to make it with anything else, until I discovered this Arugula Pesto. It’s made with vegetable broth and that cuts the calories way, way down, but doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. I didn’t even miss the cheese! (Yep, you read that right.)

Arugula Pesto by So, How's It Taste

So, how’s it taste?

It’s just as delicious as its olive oil cousins. Using arugula gives it a peppery bite that I really liked, even though I’m not a huge fan of a mouthful of the leaves. I think it plays nicely with the garlic and that’s why I enjoyed it so much more as a pesto. The vegetable broth really didn’t add much flavor and acted as the binder to bring it all together. I didn’t miss the olive oil at all. The lemon juice brightened up the dish and the walnuts added just a bit of texture. I was skeptical, but happy this recipe was a winner.

It does need a touch of salt though, so after you blend all the ingredients, I’d add a bit of salt and pepper to your liking. This recipe comes from a pretty strict diet cookbook where salt is pretty much banned, so add it at the end if you think it needs it. You could top your pasta with freshly grated Parmesan and that would add a touch of saltiness, too.

Arugula Pesto

Jumpstart to Skinny by Bob Harper
makes about 2 servings
per serving: 68 calories, 2g protein, 3g carbs, 6g fat, 1g fiber


2 cups arugula
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. walnuts
salt & pepper, to taste


1. Using a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Serve over pasta. If too thick, thin with a bit of pasta water to desired consistency.

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  • Julie @ Table for Two May 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I LOVE arugula pestos!! That peppery bite makes it so good. Dying over this no-oil version. So smart to use vegetable broth instead!!

  • angela@spinachtiger May 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Now using broth is a great idea. Never thought of that one and I do love arugula.

  • Cassie | Bake Your Day May 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I love arugula pesto! This looks so great…now I’m craving it!

  • ashley - baker by nature May 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Arugula pesto is the best!!! I could totally go for a giant bowl of this right now!

  • Lesley Eats May 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I have arugula walnut pesto in the freezer! I absolutely love it. But I’ve never thought to use broth instead of oil. What a great idea!

  • Jen @ Savory Simple May 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I love arugula pesto! Love this!

  • amanda May 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    i love this idea! definitely going to try it.

  • Jackie l Food.Wine.Fashion May 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    My husband is obsessed with pestos – especially arugula pesto but I haven’t tried it with chicken stock before. Great idea to cut calories!

    xo Jackie

  • Megan {Country Cleaver} May 15, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I love pestos of all kinds! I never tried it with arugula before! That is so on the list 🙂

  • Sonya May 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Hey Leah…if I make this for 4 people, do I just double the recipe ingredients? I know that’s probably a dumb question, but I know some recipe ingredients are not exactly doubled for larger serving sizes…I think anyway??

    • Leah Short May 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      Hey! Yes, just double it. I actually made a double batch when I first made it and it will easily feed 4 (or more) depending on how saucy you like the pesto. You can thin a bit with the pasta water too, to stretch it.