Arugula-Walnut Pesto with Roasted Garlic
June 26, 2013 • Condiments,
When I got home from New York this week I saw that the summer heat in Colorado had very quickly turned my cute little baby arugula into full grown and slightly gone to see arugula. It’s my favorite thing to harvest so there was no way I was going to let it go to waste, but I was worried it would be a bit too strong and bitter for salad greens. Fortunately, pesto is easy to make, stores well in the freezer, and can be use on everything from pasta to bread to pizza. This one has some great depth of flavor thanks to the unusual combination of ingredients I used.Let’s start with the harvesting though – the four-foot row of arugula yielded a full large colander of greens, including quite a lot of tough stems and flowers, neither of which is very tasty. So I pulled off the tender leaves much like you would strip Swiss chard from the tougher stems……and ran them through a salad spinner to wash and dry them. When you’re growing things yourself at home you don’t have to worry about commercial pesticides or someone else’s handling of your food. But you still need to think about squirrels, rabbits, or others in your yard and I think a good wash and spin dry is in order!Most traditional basil pestos used fresh garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil, but I wanted to change things up a bit, so used toasted walnuts, some walnut oil (about half walnut, half olive oil), and roasted garlic instead.The process is the same: mince up the garlic in the food processor, then add the greens and a bit of oil to get things started, along with the nuts. Keep adding the remaining ingredients and let the food processor do it’s job. Once everything is smooth, I like to freeze pesto in ice cube trays as each cube equals about one portion of pesto. Once frozen you can transfer the cubes to a plastic bag or container so that the pesto is covered.I wanted something salty and crispy with the pesto I tossed with spaghetti, so I baked some prosciutto slices for about 10 minutes until crispy (a trick I learned from Top Chef contestant Eliza Gavin who used this to top a lentil soup in my cookbook, Tasting Colorado).This is a simple yet pretty decadent bowl of pasta for lunch as the pesto and the prosciutto chips are both quite rich tasting. You can also use the pesto on pizza, as a dip, thinned into a salad dressing, or as a garnish for a soup. Go wild!
- 12 roasted garlic cloves
- 4 ounces toasted walnuts
- 12 ounces cleaned arugula (large stems removed)
- ⅓ cup walnut oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ - ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Mince the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor then add the walnuts and roughly chop. Add about half of the arugula and the walnut oil and pulse until combined. Add the remaining arugula, salt, and pepper, and with the blade running, drizzle in olive oil until pesto is creamy but thick like ketchup. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze.