Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

When the seasons shift from summer to autumn, almost immediately we start to crave more hearty, earthy flavours.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura hits the spot yet again with this vibrant pesto linguine! It contains herby, nutty flavours reminiscent of summer, with extra depth from olive oil and zingy rocket. Like trans-seasonal fashion, but for your palate… Yum!


Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Linguine with rocket and hazelnut pesto. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Olive oil and hazelnuts give the pesto an earthy, autumnal depth. Photo – Photo – Eve Wilson.

Pesto just means something that is pounded, so many iterations can be found all over Italy. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Using rocket instead of basil for the pesto makes it a more autumnal offering. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Fresh herbs such as mint and parsley give this dish a fragrant hit. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Salt and garlic pack a seasoning punch. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Herby and delicious! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia in her bright new kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
13th of April 2021

For me, basil and tomatoes are synonymous with summer. When the basil is long gone from the garden, but the days still warm, I still crave something relatively summery which  will transport me back to days at the beach, long afternoons and days doing absolutely nothing. If there was to be an ambassador for summer pasta dishes, pesto pasta would be a frontrunner!

Pesto just means something that is pounded, so many iterations can be found all over Italy. Here is a more autumnal offering, which I’ve kept bright and punchy, but swapped out the basil for more accessible rocket, mint and parsley and hazelnuts instead of pine nuts. The result is  a vibrant nutty pesto which happily replaces the classic pesto alla genovese (which is best with the small and sweet summer basil leaves). Use any pasta you like, but pesto is rather lovely with linguine or trenette which are narrow, long and flat.

Everything you need for an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. Photo – Eve Wilson.

The gorgeous Julia Busuttil Nishimura. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Pesto pasta, Julia-style! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.


(Serves 4)
1 large garlic clove
Pinch of sea salt
50g (approximately half a bunch) each of parsley and mint
100g rocket
60g roasted hazelnuts
50g finely grated parmesan
about 100ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
350g linguine or other pasta of your choice


To make the pesto, pound the garlic and salt using a mortar and pestle. Add the herbs and rocket and crush in a circular motion. When a paste begins to form, add the hazelnuts and pound. Stir in the parmesan and drizzle in enough olive oil to thin the pesto to a dolloping texture.

Alternatively, you can use a food processor; just be aware that the metal blades can quickly oxidise the leaves which means it will lose its vibrancy compared the mortar and pestle method. If using a food processor, pulse everything except the oil and cheeses together, then drizzle in the oil while the motor is running, then stir in the cheeses by hand. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over a medium–high heat. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente, according to the directions on the packet.

Drain, reserving 60 ml (1⁄4 cup) of the pasta water and transfer the pasta to a large serving dish. Stir the pesto through, adding pasta water as needed – enough to create a luxurious sauce. Season to taste and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some extra hazelnuts, roughly chopped.

What else I’m cooking with:

New season apples. Of course as snacks but also in crumbles, puddings and grated into bircher muesli for breakfast.

What else I’m eating:

The hassle back potato at Attica Summer Camp by Ben Shewry and team! And everything on the menu! Such a fun and delicious menu, well worth a little drive out of town. The dessert trolley is one of the most impressive things I have seen!

Click here for a downloadable, print-able recipe!

Click here for a downloadable, print-able recipe!

Recent Food