Arugula Pesto

pasta-with-arugula-pesto

If my 10-year-old self could see me now, I wonder what she’d say.

I was a picky eater with a pretty developed flavor palate. My parents are foodies, but at 10, I was anything but. My parents had a rule that we had to try everything. We couldn’t just stick out our tongue. I remember several evenings around the family dinner table where it was a total battle of wills to just take a bite of the mahi mahi or two bites of the curry. Who knew?

At age 10, all I wanted was a crunchy iceberg salad at dinner. Instead, I had a plate of mesclun and arugula greens. I remember the requests to “finish the arugula on the plate and then….” I didn’t believe in arugula at age 10. Why does this strange lettuce have to have so much flavor?! Arugula, really?? Who knew that I would grow up to be this person that seeks out arugula. Heck, I even grow arugula on my fire escape! That’s how much I love it!

In the off season, I tend to buy the bags of baby arugula from Trader Joe’s. Arugula is in season now – as are a variety of other greens. And I’m in salad green heaven.

Arugula is a fantastic green characterized by its amazing slightly peppery flavor. It’s also sometimes called roquette or rocket greens.

fresh-arugula

Last week, as I came upon the farmer’s market outside my office, I spotted some beautiful greens and I had to have them. I eagerly bought two bunches. Of course, when I came home and picked up my CSA, there were a couple more bunches. This whole lot of arugula was in addition to a bag of baby arugula sitting in my fridge. Um. I think I had more arugula that I needed. I mean, I love salads, but this much arugula was making me twitchy.

I decided to make a pesto out of the greens. My husband usually turns down a basil pesto, but I had a hunch that the lighter flavor of the arugula leaves would be more to his liking. And I was right!

I washed and dried a few cups of the greens and pulsed it in my Cuisinart along with some garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil. It took all of two minutes.

Arugula-cuisinart

I added the pesto to some pappardelle that I tossed with some sautéed shallots, garlic, mushrooms, chickpeas and additional lemon juice. I sprinkled on some red pepper flakes and ground black pepper and dinner was served. Dinner was a success. I stored the rest of the pesto in my freezer. I am totally making this again. If only arugula season was year-round.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Arugula Pesto
 
Author:

Ingredients
  • 3.5 cups of arugula leaves (you can include some of the stems), washed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • additional salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Place everything except for the olive oil in to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process everything then slowly pour in the olive oil until everything is processed and mixed together.
  3. Taste the pesto and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Enjoy! Add this pesto pasta or use as a pizza topping. The options are endless.

Arugula-Pesto-Long-as-Smart-Object-1

 

Spinach and Walnut Pesto

Some of you may already know about my love for pesto. Those of you that know me will also know that not everyone in my life shares this love of pesto. So I keep trying to come up with ways to change up the pesto in hopes that J might become a pesto convert. The good thing is that he is willing to try anything.

While watching Lidia Bastianich the other night, I came across her making some spinach pesto. Looked so good! I decided to give it a whirl.

I decided to wing it as far as a recipe goes. Taste as you go along. Measurements below are estimates.

Spinach and Walnut Pesto
Inspired by Lidia Bastianich

Ingredients:

1 bag of washed spinach leaves (standard Trader Joe’s size)
2 cups washed basil leaves (loosely packed)
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped toasted walnuts
Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Place the various leaves in the food processor. Turn it on.

Add the garlic while it’s going.

Add in the walnuts.  Chop Chop

Slowly add in the olive oil. Let it get to the consistence you like.

Taste it a bit. Add some salt. Just a couple of teaspoons.

I like to make a lot and then freeze it for future meals.

Enjoy it over anything you like. We had it with some pasta. Delish!

Lemon Basil Cupcakes with a Lemon Glaze

I had an itch to bake something sweet the other day. Usually when that happens, I mull the idea in my head for hours. Potentially annoyed with the forseeable mess to clean up, I give up the thought at 11pm and go to bed. I really wanted to play in the kitchen though, and I knew that the cleaning lady was coming the next day – so I felt a little bit better about any kitchen experimenting I planned to do.

The basil in my garden is usually reserved for pesto, and a few savory kitchen exploits here and there. While thinking about a lemon basil cream sauce I have made, I got to thinking that maybe basil and lemon could go well together in a cake. Lightbulb moment I tell ya. The cupcakes were yummy, with a very subtle hint of basil. Almost too subtle. Next time, I may use a little more basil or a little less lemon. It was fun playing in the kitchen though.

Lemon Basil Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze

Cake:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla extract or paste
2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup basil, chopped
zest of two lemons
Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest


Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the cake ingredients in a large bowl. Divvy up in to the cupcake pans. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, or until cupcakes are done. While the cupcakes are cooling, get to work on the glaze.

To make the glaze, just whisk everything together.

When everything is cooled down, drip the glaze over the cupcakes. Enjoy!

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