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Arugula Pesto Pasta

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Arugula Pesto Pasta |

This past weekend was one that I have hoped and prayed would come for years, and it finally happened.

My good friend Cameron got married!

It was a weekend overflowing with memorable moments, and it was bookended at beginning and end with this comforting fresh arugula pesto pasta. But before we get to the pasta, I’d love to tell you about why this wedding was so extra-special…

A little over 8 years ago, I was in that fresh-out-of-college stage when everything was bright and shiny and new. I had just moved to a new city, just accepted a new job at one of the biggest churches I had ever seen, and I had just started leading a new contemporary choir. Granted, I had been in a “modern” worship band all throughout college, and could roll with the “contemporary music” scene at this church. But my background and my training were actually in classical voice. (Yes, opera major right here!)  And as much as I loved the crazy loud guitars and drums blaring in my monitor week after week, a part of me still missed my first musical “comfort zone” of sorts.

Then we received an email in our department from another recent college grad asking to come audition for the choir. He claimed to love singing both classical and contemporary, which piqued our staff’s interest. So we met him one day for a routine audition standing around our big grand piano. But the second Cameron began to sing, we realized this was anything but routine.

Quite simply, Cameron has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard.

He can sing everything from Pavarotti, to Sinatra, to Jason Mraz. And each time, he will knock your socks off.

Arugula Pesto Pasta |

Cameron and I singing “The Prayer” at COR, circa 2005.

The first time that we had Cameron come sing in worship, our music director paired the two of us up to break out of the contemporary “norm” and surprise the congregation with the classical Andrea Bocelli and Charlotte Church arrangement of “The Prayer”. Singing it together the first time at age 22, and then singing it together again for probably the 100th time (literally) a few weeks ago at age 30, is always such a thrill. I mean it. There are those few special times as a musician that you just “click” with someone, and whenever I dabble back into the classical duet world, Cameron is the guy I always hope will be my partner.

But even more than his incredible voice, which I should note that he diligently keeps in shape, Cameron is deeply-respected by those around him for being one the most humble, gracious, and encouraging people I know. Salt. Of. The. Earth.

Cameron and Ali

Singing together a few years ago at a freeeeezing cold holiday radio concert.

(For anyone interested, here is a live clip of us putting on our classical hats to sing “The Prayer” at church for a concert in 2005.)


One of my favorite memories of Cameron singing. Our little choir had the chance to sing in front of 12,000+ people at a national choir competition. And after the song, Donald Lawrence singled Cameron out, and put him on the spot to “just sing one more riff” for the crowd. Thunderous applause. (And of course, Cameron was as humble as could be.)

Anyway, from time serving together at church, to singing at countless weddings/funerals/concerts, to becoming workout partners for a few years when we both lived near the Plaza in Kansas City, it’s safe to say that I got to know Cameron pretty well over the past 8 years. We would talk about the ups and downs of my job, his crazy stories from medical school, and of course, share stories and laughs and a few tears about the long line of set-ups and dates that never quite seemed to go as we hoped.

But I had always told Cameron that I had a sneaking suspicion he would end up with a girl from his hometown. And lo and behold, nearly two years ago, he popped the news on a walk one night that he was driving home to Joplin, Missouri to take out a girl he had reconnected with from high school. They had never really known each other growing up, but from the first date, it was clear she was completely and wonderfully someone that he wanted to know. Usually, our obligatory post-date “how’d it go?” was met with a shake of the head. But I remember very clearly that he told me with a smile and without missing a beat that it was absolutely great. And he couldn’t wait to take her out again.

As soon as we all met her, it was clear that they were literally a match made in heaven. Emily was sweet, caring, bright, and funny, and the crazy thing is that her parents and Cameron’s had been friends for years! For two people who are super-big into family, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Cameron + Emily

But a few months after they began dating, we all received the text one night that made the world stop spinning. Cameron’s newlywed 26-year-old brother had been killed in a car wreck, and the story was devastating beyond belief. With Emily by his side, Cameron and his parents sat in the front row of the funeral service, and through their grief and tears celebrated a life well-lived. And the hope that they would make it through, and one day see him again.

It has been a long year and a half since that day, full of ups and downs. But this weekend, we gathered in the same church with the same friends for what felt like a profoundly good reunion — Cameron and Emily got married! He was all smiles, she was radiant, and there was not a dry in the house as they said their vows after such a long wait. My friends and I were all happy teary wrecks, but somehow I held it together to sing our classic song with his old vocal instructor who sent us that recommendation letter long ago. But the musical highlight of the wedding was when — you guessed it — Cameron gave a surprise serenade to his beautiful bride, singing her a gorgeous version of “Always”. That wedding definitely goes down in the history books as a special, special day.

Cameron + Emily

Now granted, the other hugely memorable moment of the weekend was getting lost on the streets of Joplin as tornado sirens were wailing and people were driving like bats as we couldn’t seem to make it to our hotel. (And then once there, the deafening sirens indoors and the — surprise! — lack of a basement was less than settling.)  But the town was spared this time, and we thankfully all made it to the church on time.

But before I left for Joplin, and upon my return home, I have to get back to food blogging and tell you about the most wonderful arugula pesto pasta I made. I’ve made homemade pesto recipes for years and years, and during that time have been a huge fan of arugula, but somehow I had never combined the two into a pesto! I finally decided it was time. So I made a big batch to enjoy right before I left and then take on the road. And then the leftovers were waiting for me upon my return to KC. Let’s just say that if you love arugula, it really is as wonderful (and simple!) as you think it is. A definite new favorite I look forward to reprising again and again.

Cameron + Emily

Cheers to the happy newlyweds, and the good food that’s woven into the heart of good memories.

Arugula Pesto Pasta |

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Arugula Pesto Pasta

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  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Fresh arugula makes a delicious simple pesto!


  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • 5 ounces baby arugula, washed
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Cook pasta in generously-salted boiling water until al dente according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse together arugula, garlic, 2/3 cup pine nuts, Parmesan and lemon juice in a food processor until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to pulse the pesto until it is incorporated.
  3. When the pasta reaches al dente, drain the pasta. Then immediately toss with pesto, and remaining pine nuts. Serve immediately, sprinkled with extra Parmesan.
  4. This pasta would also be delicious served with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Arugula Pesto Pasta Recipe |

*Clip of “The Prayer” is from Resurrection Live, a recording of a live concert from Church of the Resurrection. Original song by Carol Beyer Seger and David Foster.

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60 comments on “Arugula Pesto Pasta”

  1. What an incredible love story!! Opera major?? Say what?? Man you keep surprising me girl!! PS: I love that you put lemon in your pesto – I do too (shocking.)

  2. This was such a lovely post and I wish Cameron and Emily the lifetime of happiness which they so deserve. What a wonderful celebration to be a part of!

  3. Seriously, what a cute couple and I never knew you were on opera major or sang (other than for fun) for that matter! Way to go you, you surprise me everyday!
    I love this pesta pasta! So summery!

  4. Such a sweet and overcoming love story! So happy your friend has found his match. :) Lovely recipe, too!

  5. Lovely pasta and congrats to the happy couple!

  6. Congrats to Cameron and Emily, such a sweet story! Pesto is the way to go when summer arrives, this one sounds delicious. Such pretty pics too :)

  7. This looks so fabulous! Weddings are so fun – what a gorgeous couple!

  8. This looks wonderful!! Congratulations to your sweet friend!

  9. This pesto AND the wedding both sound perfect!

  10. What an absolutely beautiful couple!! And this pasta looks pretty beautiful, too :)

  11. I’ve been loving pesto lately, so I’m totally going to have to try this!

    Gorgeous couple!

  12. This pasta looks fabulous! Congrats to your friend getting married.

  13. ..and I conveniently bought a bag of fresh arugula at the farmer’s market this past weekend!

  14. This Pesto Pasta looks AMAZING! I’m obsessed with Pesto and love to try new combos! Pinned!

  15. I’m crazy about arugula, so this looks amazing! Pinning this!

  16. Can you and Cameron both just come sing me to sleep every night? After we all eat a bowl of this pasta, of course…? :)

  17. What an amazing weekend! They look so happy. Best wishes to them!!!! :)

    I can’t wait to try this arugula pesto. I think it would be great over veggies. I want to make veggie pasta this supper (not just spaghetti squash).

  18. Love this post! Congrats to your friend!! See you on Thursday!!

  19. I love pesto, your arugula version looks fab!

  20. I love weddings!… and I love this pasta! Such a genius recipe Ali! {I feel like I tell you that a lot :)}

  21. My husband introduced me to arugula and now we grow it in our garden! I bet this adds a nice spicy version to the pesto! Love this idea! And oh, great story!!!

  22. What a powerful and touching post, Ali! Congrats to your friends :)

    And I LOVE arugula pesto! So bright and spicy and just perfect!

  23. Amazing post, Ali! Best wishes to the newlyweds!
    The pasta looks divine!

  24. A beatiful love story, wonderfully written! Thank you for sharing. The arugula pesto paste is mouthwatering.

  25. Congrats to the gorgeous couple!

    And give me this pasta.

    No, I’m serious.

  26. What a sweet post, congrats to the happy couple!!
    Neat recipe for one of those wacky kind of days. You know the kind of day I mean…right? Nothing falls into place and the last thing you want to do is fuss over making a dinner. This is just easy-peasy!
    I’m really liking the lemon part, I will be trying this recipe out soon.

  27. It’s is beautiful, my friend! I’m so happy for them…Cameron does have one of thenot amazing voices! I am so glad you got to celebrate these two!

  28. What a lovely couple! I’m so glad the storms passed you all by! So scary! And the pasta, I could eat this day and night!

  29. What a sweet, sweet story! I loved reading it! And I love reading about your singing!

    This pasta looks awesome! Thanks for sharing your life with us :)

  30. What a gorgeous couple! Thanks for sharing this with us (and glad you are OK!) Arugula pasta is too much of a secret–no need to hold out for the basil crop when I can smear this green goodness all over EVERYTHING

  31. I love making unexpected pestos like this one! So flavorful.

  32. Such a beautiful couple, congrats to them!

    Loving this pasta, Ali. You even make green pasta look droolworthy ;)

  33. Congrats to the couple, wonderful story! And you sing? How awesome are you?!

    I am intrigued by arugula as pesto, thanks for imprinting this idea on my brain!

  34. Congrats to the newlyweds! They are so cute!

    And I am LOVING this pesto. I just fell in love with kale pesto recently but I actually have a huge bag of arugula leftover so I need to make this too!

  35. What a gorgeous couple and beautiful post!
    Love this pasta, the arugula sounds like a great variation of pesto!

  36. Such a gorgeous, summery dish and a sweet, happy looking couple!

  37. This dish looks gorgeous, I love a simple pasta dish.

  38. What a sweet, sweet love story! And I’m all over this pasta – SO delish!!

  39. I have a HUGE bag of arugula in the fridge and now I know just what to do with it!

  40. New to your site and am loving it already! Great recipes and content. The story of your friend Cameron was so touching-hope they will live happily ever after!

  41. This dish is beautiful :) I love pesto and arugula!

  42. one of the most beautiful pasta dishes I have seen…so simple

  43. Oh my goodness, this is sooooooo good! And I’m not even a huge fan of arugula! I added more leman juice and even a little lemon zest, and it was excellent over whole wheat penne with some chopped roasted chicken ….. This recipe is definitely a KEEPER :)