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4 from 10 votes

Lemony Pesto Pasta Salad with Avocado and Arugula

Servings: 8 as a side dish


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound cut pasta, such as penne or fusilli
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)    
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed  
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided (2 lemons)
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see note)
  • 2 cups baby arugula, packed
  • 2 firm-ripe avocados


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, then drain and place in a large bowl. Drizzle the pasta lightly with olive oil, toss, and allow it to cool slightly while you make the pesto.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine 3 tablespoons of the pine nuts and the garlic and process until finely minced.  
  • Add the basil, mint, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt and pulse until the herbs are coarsely chopped.  With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan and pulse until just combined.
  • Add the pesto to the cooked pasta and toss well to coat. Add the arugula and the remaining 2 tablespoons pine nuts and toss again.
  • Dice the avocados into bite-size pieces and place them in a small bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and toss. Add the avocado the pasta and toss gently to combine.
  • Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature.
    Note: The sharp, nutty flavor of freshly grated Parmesan is essential here- avoid the pre-grated stuff if you can!
    For the brightest green pesto, this pasta is best served the day it’s made. If possible, wait to add the avocado until shortly before serving.  
    Copyright 2020, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved