Here in California, walnuts are local and arugula is fantastic in late winter and early spring. Last week I went to a Farmer’s Market class at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica where we made pesto totally without basil, which was new to me. We had a bunch of arugula in our garden that needed harvesting and I thought: make pesto! This is an adaptation of the recipe we used in class. Ingredients and amounts are fluid: feel free to adjust to desired taste and texture, and to substitute nuts or greens or hard cheeses. You can combine spinach with the arugula for a milder taste, use pecans or the traditional pine nuts, pecorino or romano for the cheese. You can blend until its really smooth, or keep the leaves and nuts coarse for a more rustic pesto. This will keep in the fridge for several days in an airtight container and freezes well, too.
4 – 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 cups packed arugula leaves
1 cup grated parmesan
¾ cups olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pulse the nuts and garlic together in a food processor, just until nuts are in very small pieces. Don’t turn it to butter. Add arugula and cheese and pulse about ten times. Scrape down edges if necessary. Add oil in a slow stream while processor is running, until you reach the desired texture. Taste; add salt if necessary and stir in lemon juice to preserve color.
Prepare 8 oz. pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is almost done, stir a few handfuls of thinly sliced kale leaves into the cooking pasta. After another minute of cooking, drain pasta and kale. Squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top, and toss with about ½ cup of pesto in a large serving bowl. You can also add fresh mozzarella, dabs of goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, etc. Top with additional toasted nuts and/or grated parmesan and enjoy! Serves 2 – 4.
Printable version: PESTO WITH ARUGULA & WALNUTS
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