Arugula Walnut Pesto

I’ve mentioned my love of pasta, right?  Well, last week hubby asked me why we never have pasta anymore, which was kind of a shocking question.  But when I thought about it, I realized that I’ve been doing such a good job of trying new recipes that I forgot about the basics!  Well, that had to be fixed asap.  Especially with Passover coming up, last week was the perfect time to load up on pasta.  One night we just had spaghetti with sauteed veggies (I buy frozen mixed veggies so I always have something easy on hand), a little tomato sauce, and lots of romano (really, the whole meal was about the cheese!), and then another night I had some wild salmon to cook up, and decided a pesto pasta could be perfect.  I had also just bought some arugula for hubby’s new favorite salad, and decided to try a pesto made with arugula as a complement.

I did a quick search and came across a recipe on Simply Recipes that looked really exciting.  In some ways it was a pretty standard pesto, but included two new techniques that I had never seen before – did you know that you can “roast” garlic in minutes without any oil by putting cloves in a saute pan with the skins on?  And that you can “toast” walnuts in the microwave??  I had to give this a try!

The result was great.  In my opinion it’s really hard to mess up pesto, and this one had a nice bright flavor from the arugula.  I also loved the roasted garlic – lately I’ve ended up with some really potent heads of garlic, and have been having a hard time finding the right balance when using it raw.  But the roasting allowed a nice subtle garlic taste without overdoing it.  It was a hit with hubby and the munchkin, too, and, like Spinach Walnut Pesto, is a good way for me to integrate more greens and nuts into our diets.

 

 

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Arugula Walnut Pesto
adapted from Simply Recipes

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups packed baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil

Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.

Toast the walnuts 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.  The walnuts didn’t actually get brown, but they definitely took on a toasted smell without risk of burning 🙂

Combine the arugula, walnuts, and garlic into a food processor. Pulse just to combine, and then drizzle in olive oil while running continuously.  Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the cheese and season with a few grinds of black pepper to taste.

Mix with cooked pasta, adding some of the starchy cooking water or some extra oil if necessary.

Makes enough for approximately 4 servings of pasta

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