This extra creamy lemon pesto recipe draws inspiration from Trader Joe’s lemon pesto sauce. Bursting with pungent flavors, this lemony pesto features almond butter and extra lemon zest, transporting you to long summer days at the Amalfi Coast, where lemon-infused dishes reign supreme. It’s an incredibly versatile sauce that instantly infuses your pasta dishes, and sandwiches, or serves as a delicious dip on its own.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Trade Joe’s copycat recipe without seed oil and flavorings
- Quick and easy to prepare
- Versatile pesto sauce – perfect for pasta
- Lemons – Organic lemons work best. Make sure to thoroughly wash them before zesting if they’re non-organic.
- Arugula – Also known as rocket or rucula, arugula leaves add a pungent peppery note to this pesto that works beautifully with the citrus flavors and the heat of the chili.
- Almonds – You can use crunchy or smooth almond butter and blend to your desired consistency. If you’re using whole almonds blend them thoroughly before making the pesto.
- Parmesan – Parmesan cheese adds rich, salty, and nutty flavors, creating a creamy texture and boosting umami.
- Garlic – Garlic intensifies the overall flavor of the pesto.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil helps to blend and bind the other ingredients together into a cohesive sauce.
- Seasoning – Chili flakes add heat while salt and freshly ground pepper round out the flavors.
How to make lemon pesto in 3 easy steps
- Wash and dry rocket leaves, then blend in a food processor or blender with almond butter, garlic, lemon zest, and juice until a paste forms.
- Drizzle in olive oil; adjust consistency with more oil or water if needed.
- Season with chili flakes, salt, and pepper, then blend briefly.
- Adjust consistency: If the lemon pesto is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil or a splash of water to thin it out.
- Season to taste: Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can add more lemon juice, salt, or pepper to balance the flavors according to your preference.
5 easy ways to use pesto
Pasta sauce: Toss freshly cooked pasta such as spaghetti, tagliatelle, or fettuccine with lemon pesto for a quick and flavorful dish. You can also mix in some roasted vegetables or grilled chicken to make lemon pesto chicken pasta.
Dip: Use pesto as a dip for fresh vegetables or crackers. It adds a zesty element to your snack platter or charcuterie board.
Salad: Mix pesto into a warm or cold salad. The pesto adds extra flavor to pasta, potato, or roasted vegetable salads.
Grilled meats: Use lemon pesto as a marinade or sauce for grilled meats such as chicken, fish, or shrimp. It imparts a delicious herby flavor to seafood and white meat.
Freeze pesto in ice cube trays or containers, leaving space for expansion. Top with olive oil, cover, and freeze. Transfer frozen cubes to a bag, label with date, and store for 3-6 months.
Store homemade pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 7 days. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to help preserve its vibrant green color.
Creamy Lemon Pesto Sauce
- 4 cups arugula aka rocket or rucola
- 1/4 cup almond butter smooth or crunchy
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes adjust to taste
- Wash the rocket leaves thoroughly and pat them dry using paper towels.
- In a food processor, combine the rocket, almond butter, minced garlic, lemon zest, and juice. Pulse until the mixture is well blended and starts to form a paste. You might need to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and blend again to ensure everything is well incorporated.
- With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. If the pesto is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil or a splash of water to thin it out. Blend until you reach the desired consistency.
- Add chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Blend the pesto again briefly after adding the seasonings.
- Use the lemon pesto as a sauce for pasta, a spread for sandwiches, or a dip for veggies and bread.