Rocket Pesto Pasta, so vibrant and fresh! It’s a great alternative to the traditional basil pesto, even more during spring and summer! This Italian pasta with rocket pesto recipe is ready in 15 min, a tasty choice for a quick perfect meatless Monday lunch, and guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser!
If life gives you rocket, make Rocket Walnut Pesto. I’ve been making Rocket Walnut Pesto for the last couple of years after I watched Gino D’acampo making a mascarpone and rocket pesto sauce. This inspired me to make this pesto.
Also, a curious fact, the rocket I used for the pesto you see in the pictures was about to be thrown away by my vegetable grocery store. Why? Apparently, it wasn’t the vibrant green customers are after… So lucky me, I got it for free. The message? If you have rocket that is about to go to waste, don’t throw it and make Rocket Pesto!
Rocket Pesto Pasta Recipe Details
I based this recipe on the classic pesto Genovese ratios of oil, herbs and nuttiness, but swapping the basil with rocket and the pine nuts with walnuts. The earthiness of the walnuts pairs so well with the peppery rocket!
I also use Grana Padano instead of the traditional Parmesan and Pecorino cheese combo. I think the Pecorino cheese can overpower the rocket peppery flavour. In any case, feel free to swap the Grana Padano with Parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.
About the garlic… The garlic I buy is quite strong, thus one clove is more than enough. What I always do when eating it raw is remove the sprout. The sprout in the center of a garlic clove is called the germ. As the garlic ages, the germ grows larger and develops a bitter quality that can be unpleasant for digestion. Solution: Remove it. Don’t hesitate to reduce the garlic quantity to half or double, triple it depending on the strength of your garlic or to your taste.
Finally, although you can use your favourite pasta shapes, I always pair rocket pesto with spaghetti or rigatoni pasta. It’s important to save some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto and give it creaminess, so it’s more of a sauce. To add extra crunchiness, I top it with a few chopped walnuts. I also mix the pasta with some rocket so people have a clue of what’s the main pesto ingredient.
You can serve this Rocket Pesto Pasta plain or top it with chicken, shrimp, fish or steak for a more substantial meal. It will pair excellently with the Grilled Ribeye Steak with Charred Cherry Tomatoes.
How to Use Rocket Pesto?
Rocket pesto is the perfect, versatile condiment to have on hand. And, while pesto is irresistibly delicious tossed with pasta or veggie noodles, it is so much more than just a pasta sauce!
- Use it on pizzas and sandwiches. Use this pesto as a pizza base or to spread on bread for your next boomer sandwich.
- Use in salad dressings. Add more olive oil and vinegar to the pesto for a homemade vinaigrette!
- Add it to plain protein. Use this pesto to accompany meat, seafood or fish for a burst of flavour!
- Drizzle it on vegetables. Elevate your grilled or roasted vegetables by drizzling a little pesto on top.
If you want to use the pesto for pasta, just remember to add a little of the pasta cooking water to give the sauce a runnier consistency.
How to Store Rocket Pesto
- Fridge: Keep the pesto in a jar or air-tight container with a thin layer of olive oil at the top to prevent it from oxidizing. It lasts in the fridge for up to two weeks. You will need to give it a good stir, or whisk, before using!
- Freezer: It freezes very well. If you have an ice-cube mold, you can fill in the cavities and then use a few portions at a time instead of having to defrost a whole jar.
Rocket Pesto Pasta Final Notes
- The rocket pesto recipe below will make for more than 200 g of pasta. If you don’t want to store it, you can halve the recipe.
- This pesto pasta is also delicious cold the next day, so don’t hesitate to make enough for leftovers.
If you haven’t tried rocket pesto yet, what are you waiting for? Once you taste this simple to make no-fuss rocket pesto recipe you will want to slather it on top of everything… the possibilities are endless! It only takes 15 minutes to make it, and in a blink of an eye, you have a quick, refreshing and colourful pasta.
If you make this Rocket Pesto Pasta recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rate it. Hearing from you is everything! Oh, and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Rocket Pesto Pasta
- 200 g pasta - I used rigatoni
- 45 g walnuts - plus extra to garnish
- 65 g Grana Padano - roughly chopped (or Parmesan)
- 1 large garlic clove - core removed
- 100 g rocket - plus extra to garnish
- 125-140 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare the pasta as per the package instructions (save some pasta water at the end). While it cooks prepare the pesto.
- Put the garlic, Grana Padano, walnuts and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Blend until coarsely chopped. While the food processor runs, add the oil in a trickle fashion until incorporated, starting with 125 ml. Add more olive oil if desired.
- Mix 4 tablespoons of the pesto with a bit of the pasta water until you get your desired consistency.
- Stir the pasta into the sauce. Garnish with walnut pieces and rocket and serve.
- Storage: Keep the pesto in a jar and add a thin layer of olive oil at the top to prevent it from oxidising. It lasts in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Freezer friendly: It freezes very well. If you have an ice-cube mold, you can fill in the cavities and then use a few portions at a time instead of having to defrost a whole jar.
- You can use this pesto to accompany meat or fish. If you want to use the pesto for pasta, just remember to add a little of the pasta cooking water to give the sauce a runnier consistency.