Linguine with Creamy Arugula Walnut Pesto

Tested & Perfected Recipes

I love Anne Burrell’s recipes, and this pasta dish, adapted from her cookbook Cook Like a Rock Star: 125 Recipes, Lessons, and Culinary Secrets (Clarkson Potter, 2011), is one of my favorites. It’s a creamy twist on pesto pasta, and it’s super quick to make — you can have it on the table in 25 minutes, tops. While the pasta cooks, you whip up a pesto with toasted walnuts, peppery arugula, sharp cheese, and garlic. When the pasta is ready, you toss it with the pesto, a bit of cream, and some of the pasta cooking water for a lusciously rich and flavorful dish.

What You’ll Need To Make Linguine with Creamy Arugula Walnut Pesto

ingredients for linguine with creamy arugula walnut pesto

Step-By-Step Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
boiling linguine

Meanwhile, place the walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant.
toasting walnuts

In a food processor, combine the toasted walnuts, arugula, garlic, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, and pepper.

arugula, walnuts, cheese, and garlic in food processor

Process until the mixture resembles a coarse paste.

coarsely blended pesto ingredients

While the machine is running, drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube until the mixture is mostly smooth.

smooth pesto after adding olive oil

Reserve about 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the linguine in a colander.

strained linguini

Combine the pesto, cream, 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drained linguine in a large saucepan.

adding pesto and cream to linguine

Toss over medium heat until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and warmed through. Add more pasta water as necessary to thin the sauce.

tossed linguine with arugula pesto

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Linguine with Creamy Arugula Walnut Pesto

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, place the walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. In a food processor, combine the toasted walnuts, arugula, garlic, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, and pepper. Process until the mixture resembles a coarse paste. While the machine is running, drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube until the mixture is mostly smooth.
  5. Reserve about 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the linguine in a colander.
  6. Combine the pesto, cream, and 1/2 cup of the cooking water in a 12-inch saucepan. Add the drained linguine and toss over medium heat until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and warmed through. Add more pasta water as necessary to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This recipe was delicious and easy! Leftovers were great too. A great use of arugula.

    • — Elizabeth on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Do you measure the arugula using a “packed” cup? I know that you have used that terminology in other recipes (“gently packed basil” in your pesto recipe), but here it is just “3 cups”. Do you know approx. how many ounces or grams of arugula it would be? Thanks!

    • — Julie on September 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Julie, I’d estimate it’s between 2-1/2 to 3 ounces. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Easyyyy and delicious!! Thank you!

    • — setareh on September 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I leave out the nuts? Or substitute something else? I am allergic. Thanks!

    • — Hannah on September 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Hannah, I wouldn’t leave the nuts out as they play an important part in the pesto. I haven’t tried this with something like pepitas or sunflower seeds so I can’t say for sure how it will turn out, but you could experiment with that. I see online that there are some nut-free pesto recipes, so you may want to give one of those a try.

      • — Jenn on September 2, 2020
      • Reply
      • Is it ok if they are salted and roasted already? That’s all I have!

        • — Hannah on September 8, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure, but I would skip the roasting step and cut back on the added salt a bit. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on September 10, 2020
          • Reply
  • We made this tonight and loved it. Had some cooked chicken so added that as well. Great meal and easy to prepare.

    • — Romi on August 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • Wonder if there might be a substitute for the heavy cream?

    • — Kathryn on August 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathryn, I think half & half would work here.

      • — Jenn on August 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this today! It was super easy and quick to prepare and so yummy! I mixed in some spinach because I didn’t have enough arugula. Great recipe! Will make again.

    • — MJ on August 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can the Pesto be frozen?

    • — Kris on August 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Kris. I’d cover it with a thin film of olive oil. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Would baby spinach or fresh basil work in this recipe? It looks delicious!

    • — Kiki on August 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wondering if I can replace the arugula with a baby spring mix.

    • — Jaimie on August 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jaimie, I think you could use a blend of baby arugula and baby kale, spinach, or basil (or any combination).

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2020
      • Reply

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