I have a love affair with arugula. If you have ever been around me on the farm or at the market you have heard me go on (and on) about arugula (well, and beets too, but that’s another recipe).
That’s fine you might say, but once I make a few salads what in the world do you do with this fun peppery green?
Well, I top pizzas (fig jam, manchego cheese, prosciutto and arugula) with it, saute it lightly with some lemon, but my favorite has to be as a pesto.
Yes, you heard me. A pesto.
You might think that basil pesto is the only pesto out there … believe me, it’s just the beginning! I am here to tell you that once you try the light, peppery arugula pesto the possibilities are endless!
Just check out this recipe for White Cheddar & Arugula Pesto Mac & Cheese. And this one for Pesto Pizza with Fresh Arugula and Parmesan.
Next thing you know you will be making pesto out of spinach, parsley, mint … or one of these 11 different kinds of pesto!
Here’s the basic recipe — but remember use what you love, have in your kitchen, or are in the mood for right now.
2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup of shelled walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor.
Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts, garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Mortar and pestle method: Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle, grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up with the other ingredients until smooth.
This is the base recipe that I use for my pesto — yours can and will be different — experiment, that’s the fun part! The original recipe called for 6 cloves of garlic, skin on, toasted in a pan — I have not tried that but might give that a whirl next time.
You can change up the nuts — walnuts, almonds, pine nuts.
Sometimes I use Cojita cheese (a Mexican hard cheese similar to Parmesan).
I love to add a roasted poblano pepper to this pesto — but then I love roasted poblanos. Have something you just love (or need to use) throw ‘er in there!
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes. Photo from Simply Recipes.com.