April 20, 2012

Lemon Artichoke Pesto

I absolutely love spring time – on those first days when I can start going outside with only a light jacket or (gasp!) no jacket at all, there is absolutely nothing that can put me in a bad mood! Sunshine, birds singing, and flowers blooming seem to have the power to fix anything. What I don’t like is that in-between period where one day it’s warm and sunny but the next I’m back to wearing my winter coat – it’s such a tease! Or when it’s freezing in the morning so I put on a heavy coat, but by the time I’m heading home later in the afternoon everyone else is in t-shirts and I look like a fool sweating buckets in my heavy clothes. I can’t wait for the days when it’s bright and sunny all day long – of course, then I’ll be complaining that I’m stuck in my office all day instead of being outside!

Fortunately, I can always bring the spring and sunshine indoors with dishes that are light and bright and lemony, like this lemon artichoke pesto. I love trying different types of pesto, and when I saw a lemon artichoke version on The View from Great Island, I knew I had to make it for Spring!

I ended up combining a few similar recipes for lemon artichoke pesto in order to create something that suited my tastes. I didn’t want it to be too herby, too lemony, or too “artichokey”, and I think I achieved that with a good balance of lemon and artichoke and lots of bright Spring flavour!
lemon artichoke pesto

This was actually my first time making something with canned artichokes, and I realized afterwards that I was meant to use the jarred, marinated kind, instead of the canned water-packed kind that I used. I think the marinated artichokes would have worked a lot better in a pesto so I’d recommend buying them instead, though from what I’ve read online, the quality of jarred artichokes can vary substantially by brand. If you’re wary about what goes into the cans/jars of artichokes (i.e. lots of sodium) but still want something easy to use, frozen artichoke hearts may be even better!

I used most of my pesto in spaghetti, topped with lots of extra lemon juice, grated parmesan, and salt and pepper. Simple and delicious!

lemon artichoke pesto pasta

With my leftovers, I made a quick lunch by spreading the pesto on a pita and topping it with asparagus, parmesan, and salt and pepper, then baking it in the oven for a bit. It was fantastic!

I could also see this being great with ravioli, stuffed in a chicken breast, or simply as a spread for some toasted bread. Be creative both with your uses for the pesto and with the ingredients that go into it - You’ll notice that I wasn’t very specific with the ingredients list because all the amounts you use may depend on your personal preferences – don’t be afraid to experiment, and let me know what works!

lemon artichoke pesto pizza

Lemon Artichoke Pesto


1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained – NOTE: I bought the canned type by accident - it worked fine, but jarred marinated artichokes would likely taste much better. You could also use thawed frozen artichokes if you don’t like the jarred ones, you may just need to adjust the amounts of artichokes and oil to suit your tastes.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup walnuts (or pistachios, almonds, or pine nuts)
1/3 cup fresh parsley (or more for a stronger herb taste)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil (you may use less/more depending on type of artichokes used and personal preference)
1 tablespoon water or artichoke marinade to thin out if needed
Salt and pepper to taste (I seasoned very generously!)


Add the first 7 ingredients to the large bowl of a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add the olive oil to the feed tube and let it slowly drain into the bowl as you blend – you may wish to start with less oil and continue adding more slowly until you reach the consistency you like. Add water or artichoke marinade to thin out the sauce if necessary. Taste and adjust any ingredients to your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If serving with pasta, add a little pasta water to the pesto to thin it out, mix it with cooked pasta, and top with lots of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.


  1. Lemon and artichoke are definitely bright spring flavors that I love this time of year!  I like how you used it in both pasta and as a pizza topping. I bet it would make a really nice bruschetta with tomatoes on top too!

  2. wow! This looks incredible! I LOVE lemony flavour and am becoming quite the fan of artichokes. I agree with Genevieve - this would make a really nice bruschetta topping. Or, mixed in with some ricotta for ravioli filling as you mentioned. Such a versatile pesto! :) MUST MAKE IT!!!! *hehe*

  3. Yummy recipe that you are sharing. Thanks!

  4. I don't really think anything could ever be TOO artichokey for me.  This sounds delicious!

  5. This sound like an amazing combination of flavors!  Thanks for sharing.

  6.  Yeah it would go well with tomatoes - good idea!

  7. Hmm I was thinking as a ravioli sauce but stuffed inside the ravioli makes so much more sense - great idea!

  8. MMM...that's totally my kind of meal!

  9. I love canned artichokes and marinated artichokes, so I think either way would be fine by me--this looks delicious!

  10. What a yummy blog you have!  This pesto looks to die for!

  11. Thank you for this recipe, will try it ASAP!! So many uses, will have some happy eaters soon!!


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