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Ah, bounty. The bags of produce we buy from Mariquita Farm are filled with an awesome bounty of winter fruits and veggies. Our most recent purchase contained a big bag of what we are pretty sure was arugula and we knew the second we looked at it that there was no way we would eat it all before it yellowed. While we love arugula, we couldn’t stomach the idea of eating arugula salads twice a day. It seemed destined to the compost bin. Big bummer.
But then it came to us – the spicy salad green makes for a tasty substitute for the more traditional basil in pesto sauce. We had our solution. The washed and dried arugula went into the food processor where it was ground and blended with a fruity, high quality extra virgin olive oil, toasted walnuts, fresh ground Grana Padano, raw garlic, fresh lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Perfecto!
Pesto is a versatile sauce. It’s great on pasta, but it’s also tasty served with grilled chicken or fish. It’s nice slathered on toasted baguette and eaten as a condiment with soup. Make it in big batches and freeze the extra in ice cube trays for future use. Just pull what you need from the freezer and toss with hot pasta or thaw for other uses.
We used walnuts in this version, but pesto invites experimentation. Basil pesto is traditionally prepared with toasted pine nuts or almonds. You can use just about any hard, salty cheese to make the sauce and nut oils make for interesting alternatives to the olive oil. Play with it, find what you like and enjoy your pesto choices with just about everything.
4-6 cups fresh arugula
¼ cup Toasted Walnuts
4-6 garlic cloves, finely minced
Zest of one lemon
1 cup freshly ground Grana Padano (Parmesan Cheese)
½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Add the arugula, walnuts, garlic, lemon zest, and Grana Padano to a food processor. Pulse a few times until starting to form a paste. Then, with the motor running, add olive oil through the feed tube. Stop the processor and add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse a few more times. Pesto can be used that day or frozen in ice cube trays for future uses.