First off, let’s just get it out of the way that some foods are just hard to photograph and make them look pretty. This peppery arugula pesto is pretty darn awesome, but just doesn’t look the most appetizing in the jar, a combination of nuts, nutritional yeast, and arugula. But, if you trust me, you will see that looks do not tell the truth, because this pesto is straight up, lick the spoon, amazing. Maybe I say that with all recipes, but this one truly takes the best pesto award. This is also another case where toasting the nuts takes everything to another level, so just toast your nuts please! Besides for making everything all caramelized and toasty, the toasted walnuts just make everything easier to blend . Also, confession time, I never made fresh pesto, or even liked pesto until a few years ago. I thought it always sounded weird and looked a little too green for my taste, but I was so so wrong, especially when it comes to this arugula pesto.
Pesto has become one of my favorite go-to recipes for using up leftover greens. As long as your greens are totally wilted into a messy clump, pesto can be made from just about anything. I love the peppery quality of arugula combined with all the layers of paprika, walnuts, and nutritional yeast. Pesto is also a wonderful way to multi-purpose with a few dinner ingredients. Anywhere from spreading it on a pizza to tossing with fresh pasta, pesto is a double duty worker in my kitchen. The crackers are pretty basic as well, utilizing frozen/thawed pizza dough rolled very thin to make some of the best homemade crackers I’ve had in a while. Note to self (and you!): having a few batches of pizza dough chilling in the freezer for quick meals and snacks is one of the best decisions ever. Amen.
Toasted Walnut and Arugula Pesto (+Cheesy Pesto Crackers)
- For the pesto:
- 1 cup walnuts whole
- 4 cups arugula
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- For the crackers:
- 1 round pizza dough thawed
- Extra paprika nutritional yeast, and kosher salt, for sprinkling
To make the pesto:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread walnuts on a sheet pan or cookie sheet and toast for 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to ensure they do not burn. Remove from oven and let cool.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the arugula, water, nutritional yeast, paprika, pepper, salt, walnuts, onion powder and garlic powder. Blend on high until all ingredients are blended and desired consistency is reached.
For the crackers:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a small cookie sheet or sheet pan. Place pizza dough on pan and spread evenly with fingers, spreading the dough very thin, almost to 1/4 in. thickness. Spread with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup prepared pesto and sprinkle with more nutritional yeast, paprika, and salt.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached.