Matt Yohalem’s Pistachio Arugula Pesto

October 16, 2019

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Matt Yohalem’s Pistachio Arugula Pesto

Chef Matt Yohalem, chef/owner of Il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, has been a leader in the farm-to-restaurant movement in Santa Fe. Learn about Matt’s commitment to local food here. This recipe is from a brief pesto series on the Il Piatto website.

Most people think of pesto as a green parmesan-basil puree, usually served with pasta. Pesto actually gets its name from that which can be prepared with a mortar & pestle. If it can be squashed or even pureed (using the pulse to get the full effect) it can be called a pesto. Examples include:

  • Pistachio & Arugula Pesto
  • Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
  • Walnut, Cranberry, Vinegar, Orange Zest, Garlic & Olive Oil Pesto
  • Apple Cider, Cinnamon, Hot Pepper & Truffle Oil Pesto (for game)

Pesto is perhaps the most versatile of sauce concepts. Generally, pestos are served at room temperature. As a matter of methodology, generally a small amount of the drier ingredients are started in a cuisinart as oil is added. This is followed by more dry ingredients. Pulsing produces a more authentic (mortar & pestle) texture.

This is the last (at least for awhile) in this series of how to make pesto. While most people think only of the classic basil pesto, there are plenty of creative and delicious ways to make pesto. Tradition be damned. Here’s how to make a pesto with pistachios and arugula.

The Recipe


  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 1 handful arugula leaves
  • 3 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and peppermill


  1. Place basil, arugula and half the oil in a cuisinart. Puree until equally incorporated.
  2. Add garlic, nuts and lemon zest, add salt and pepper, add half remaining oil and pulse until incorporated, add remaining cheese and oil. Pulse until incorporated.
  3. Add more olive oil if needed or to thin the consistency. Kept thicker, it can garnish soups; thinner, use as a sauce for meat and fish.

This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!