Pesto Made With Spring Greens

Spring green pesto made with arugula, mizuna, and loose leaf lettuce

This pesto made with spring greens is a great condiment to eat with pasta, sandwiches, and meats. Make it in a blender or the traditional way: with a mortar and pestle.

Pesto Made With Spring Greens

Recipe by Dee
Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

  • 2 cups loosely packed mixed greens. I use arugula, mizuna, and two types of loose-leaf lettuce.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 3/4 heaping cup of finely grated pecorino romano

  • A few drops of apple cider vinegar

  • Fine sea salt to taste


  • Pour the pecans into a cold ten-inch stainless steel skillet. Place the pan over medium heat and toast the pecans, stirring occasionally. The pecans are done when they smell like toasty pecan butter, three to five minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl or mortar and pestle to cool.
  • Roll the greens into a ball and chop a few times. Then place the greens, olive oil, and 1/4 tsp of salt into the blender. Pulse, then blend on low until the mixture is smooth, no more than 30 seconds. 
  • Crush the pecans using your mortar and pestle, or place them in a ziplock bag and beat with a rolling pin or a heavy frying pan. You want the pecans to be broken into small pieces but not pulverized into dust.
  • Pour the greens and oil mixture into a small mixing bowl. Using a Microplane grater, grate the garlic into the pesto, and stir. Add the crushed pecans, Pecorino Romano, and a few drops of apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine and taste. Add a little more salt if needed but remember that the flavors will meld together after the pesto has rested for a few hours in the fridge.
  • Pour the pesto into a jar and pour a little olive oil on top to prevent oxidization. The pesto will last five days in the fridge.


  • When making this recipe, you can use a mix of whatever greens you have on hand. This recipe is made with arugula, mizuna, and two types of lettuce.
  • Taste your greens before using them. Do they taste the same? Are some sweet while others are bitter or peppery? Choose the amounts of each green you use based on this. I prefer to use more arugula than lettuce because of its flavor, but do what works for you.
  • The greens used in this recipe are light, delicate leaves, so they don’t need to be cooked. If you decide to mix things up, spinach is another green you can use that does not require cooking, but if you use something like kale or swiss chard, you should sauté them until slightly wilted.
  • The method for mixing this pesto comes from Samin Nosrat’s book “Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat.” Instead of mixing everything in either a mortar and pestle or a blender, she blends the greens and oil in a blender, then stirs in the other ingredients by hand. This prevents the heat of the blades’ friction from ruining the flavor of the pesto.
  • I will sometimes make this pesto in a mortar and pestle. I usually do this when I want to use less oil and use it on things like pizza or sandwiches. It’s more work this way, but the results are worth it.

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