[Eating Rainbow | Green | no. 4 Arugula]
For a very long time, we refused to eat pesto because we hated the flavor and fragrance and everything that had to do with basil. Yes, basil, the beloved herb of millions of people from the sun-drenched hillsides of southern Italy to the verdant tropics of Thailand. We put basil in the same category of herbs as we do cilantro, a category which we named something along the lines of “Vile Disgusting Herbs.”
(We also place mint in there, but let’s try to stay on track here, ok?)
Our utter pesto hatred was something of a problem because we also have a stupid allergy to tomatoes, which made pasta night in The TasteSpotting Kitchen pretty unexciting.
Spaghetti. With lemon and capers! Every time. Yay.
We don’t know why it took us so long to realize that while we couldn’t make tomato sauce with anything but tomatoes (wait, is that the opposite of redundant, or whatever?) we could make pesto from any combination of herbs, nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil.
Our Arugula Walnut Pesto uses exactly those: bitter, pungent, peppery arugula in place of the basil (because, like we said, we hate basil) and walnuts in place of pine nuts because we are on a major anti-aging regimen and short of actual botox, walnuts might be the thing to cure us of wrinkles.
To amp the health factor, we tossed the pesto with soba noodles rather than regular wheat pasta. The slightly more intense (intense with what, we’re not sure) and nutty flavor of the soba seemed to work well with the strong flavors of the Arugula Walnut Pesto.
We used soba with 100% buckwheat, but don’t recommend this unless you have a special dietary need. 100% buckwheat soba is lot sticker and hard to handle than soba made with a combination of grains.
This version of pesto, like what we imagine for the original for everyone else, is pretty amazing. We loved it in the traditional “pasta” setting, but don’t think we didn’t spread a little of it on everything after that until it was gone. Sandwiches. Scrambled eggs. Straight out of the tupperware with a spoon.
Arugula Walnut Pesto
serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main with something like roast chicken on top
2 garlic cloves, smashed (but no need to mince by hand)
½ pound arugula (about 3 cups, packed)
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
juice of ½ lemon, about 1 tablespoon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place 2 smashed garlic cloves in food processor and pulse until garlic is chopped finely, about 30 seconds. Add arugula, walnuts and Parmesan cheese and pulse until chopped. Add lemon juice, then with the food processor running on low, add olive oil steady stream.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (we used about 1½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper).