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Spaghetti with Arugula Pesto

Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

This is my version of a summery puttanesca sauce, without the tomatoes and olives. Growing up in a Roman Catholic home, we didn't eat meat on Fridays, and this was a dish my mother would often make.

Technique tip: If using salted capers, make sure to rinse them. Blanch herbs to preserve bright color and for a silky-smooth texture. Pesto can be stored in an airtight container with a layer of extra virgin olive oil refrigerated for up to one week.

Swap options: Can omit the anchovies if you're not a fan. Use 1 cup crushed tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. Sub dried pasta instead of fresh pasta.


Arugula Pesto
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1/8 cup capers
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 12 ounces fresh spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 2 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup arugula pesto (recipe above)


For the arugula pesto:


Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath.


Blanch herbs until just wilted, about 60 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and place in ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color. Strain and gently squeeze out excess water.


Combine blanched herbs and the remaining ingredients, except the oil, in a blender. With the machine running, add olive oil in a steady stream.


Pesto can be stored in an airtight container refrigerated for up to one week.

For the pasta:


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Have a 12-inch sauté pan ready. Drop pasta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, keeping the pasta al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.


In a sauté pan, set over high heat, combine drained pasta, olive oil, red pepper flakes and 1/2 of the cheese. Toss together and add reserved pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce.


Add olives, arugula, cherry tomatoes and pesto. Toss and add more pasta water if sauce is too thick. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top, and serve.