Artichoke Lemon Pesto is a deliciously healthy Mediterranean tapenade perfect for simple pastas, spreading on toasty bruschetta, or serving with cheese and crackers. You’ll want to have a jar in your fridge at all times, it’s too good and too easy not to make!
artichoke lemon pesto is fresh and delicious
It’s fabulous with cheese and crackers, on pasta, or made into a classic Italian bruschetta. It takes 10 minutes to make, and the flavor combination is out of this world. If you love artichokes I promise you this recipe is worth your time. It’s not much to look at, I admit, but trust me on this, it’s a winner. So versatile, too.
pesto doesn’t have to include basil!
Pesto simply means to ‘pound’ or ‘crush’ in Italian, and refers to grinding ingredients with a mortar and pestle. Today we’re using a food processor for convenience, and artichokes as the base for our sauce, instead of the basil that stars in a pesto alla Genovese.
in Italy there are many types of pestos with different flavor profiles. Check out my sun dried tomato and almond pesto, or my chive and parsley pesto for variations. Are you a pesto purist? Definitely check out my spicy basil pesto.
what you’ll need to make a jar of homemade artichoke lemon pesto
- a can of artichoke hearts ~ whole or quartered will work. I don’t recommend marinated artichoke hearts because they’ll be laden with oil and pre-infused with mediocre flavor.
- a large lemon ~ a Meyer lemon will work too.
- good extra virgin olive oil ~ go for the good stuff, you’ll really taste it in this recipe.
- fresh garlic ~ 2 cloves.
- Asiago cheese ~ or another aged Italian cheese you love.
- salt and (fresh cracked!) black pepper
quality ingredients matter in a simple recipe like this
Making this pesto yourself with high quality cheese and olive oil really elevates a simple thing to something special. You can find commercial versions of this pesto but they just can’t compare. Why? Simply because commercial pestos have to be concerned with their bottom line, they just can’t afford to use the good stuff. I first discovered this type of pesto at Trader Joe’s, I’m not sure if they even sell it anymore. But I was always disappointed in the flavor every time I bought it.
Go with good olive oil, fresh lemons, imported cheese…you’ll taste the difference, guaranteed.
how to make artichoke lemon pesto
If you have a food processor, you’ll find this pesto is quick and easy. A small or full sized machine will work for pesto. If you don’t own a processor, just get a good sharp knife and do it by hand.
- Drain but don’t rinse a can of artichoke hearts. I used quartered. If you use whole, just cut them in half.
- Add the artichokes, olive oil, grated cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse about 25 times until the mixture is well chopped but still has texture. You can run the machine for a few seconds if necessary to complete the job. Leave some texture, you don’t want to create a paste.
- Taste the pesto and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. You might like it less lemony or more garlicky than I do.
- Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for longer storage.
how to use artichoke lemon pesto
Now for the fun part, this sauce is super versatile.
- Serve the sauce with your next cheese or charcuterie platter. It goes great with all sorts of cheese.
- Spread it on toasted bread, or make a classic Italian bruschetta with it.
- Use it as a simple pesto sauce for pasta. You can add extra cheese and a little pasta water while tossing with hot pasta.
- It makes a great sandwich spread for turkey or roast beef sandwiches.
- Add it to your next potato or pasta salad.
- Spread it on a simple chicken breast or salmon filet before baking.
- I love to spread on crackers, it’s amazing.
to freeze artichoke pesto for longer storage
Freeze it in heavy duty zip lock freezer bags, or in airtight containers. Plan to use within 3 months.
more reasons to love artichokes
- Smokey Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Bread
- Tortellini Salad with Artichokes and Edamame
- Lemon Artichoke Hummus
- Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
- Greek Style Stuffed Artichokes
Artichoke Lemon Pesto
- 15 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
- 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Put the artichokes in a food processor. If they are whole, cut them in half first.
- Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, cheese, oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Pulse the machine about 20-25 times to break everything down but still retain some texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Note: You can run the machine for a few seconds if you want your pesto a little smoother, but be sure to retain some texture, you don't want a paste.
- Taste the pesto at this point and adjust as you like. I added a little more lemon juice, cheese, oil, and salt and pepper.
- Spoon the sauce into a jar and refrigerate until needed. The sauce will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze for longer storage, just put it in an airtight plastic container or in a zip lock freezer bag.
To serve with pasta
- Cook your pasta, drain and return to the pan. Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid.
- Spoon dollops of pesto onto the pasta and toss along with some grated cheese. Add in some of the cooking liquid to help distribute the pesto and make a light sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with extra cheese.