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This simple, fresh and peppery pasta sauce is quick to make and tastes better than pesto from a jar.
Rocket pesto is made in much the same way as tradition basil pesto, but the flavour is completely different. Whereas basil gives the sauce a deep, herby hit, rocket is grassier, fresher and more peppery. It's almost like it's spiced with chillies. If you have a spare bag of rocket in your fridge that is threatening to go off, this is a great way to use it up. The pesto will store in a jar for a couple of days. We've used pecorino cheese here. It's similar to Parmesan, but it's made with sheeps' milk instead of cows'. The flavour is a little more mild, too - but feel free to use Parmesan if that's what you have. Like Parmesan, it's not usually vegetarian, but you can find good vegetarian hard cheese substitutes.
- 100-120g bag rocket
- 50g (1¾ oz) pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 8tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 50g (1¾ oz) pecorino cheese, finely grated (or other vegetarian equivalent)
- 1tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pasta like spaghetti, to serve
- Shavings of pecorino cheese, to serve
- Place the rocket leaves and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor, or blender, along with the olive oil, garlic, pecorino and lemon juice. Purée until the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, then drain it thoroughly. Add the pesto to the pasta, according to taste, and stir well to coat in the sauce.
- Spoon the pasta on to serving plates and scatter some shavings of pecorino over and serve immediately. (Not suitable for freezing).
Top tip for making this rocket pesto
Make sure your rocket leaves are vibrant and green, not turning yellow, for the best flavour. If you're using homegrown rocket from the garden, you will probably find it's much more peppery than the store-bought packs. If you find it's too much, you can substitute some of the rocket in the recipe for basil or spinach. Spinach will mellow the flavour, basil will add a more traditional herbiness.
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