Confession: I’m a pesto fanatic, but I had never actually made my own until recently. I was intrigued by Barbara Kingsolver’s method of making pesto in bulk in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which Lesley kindly shipped to me from Bordeaux!). However, my baby basil plant isn’t nearly big enough to produce mass quantities of pesto, so I was stumped.
Then I ran across arugula pesto. By now you all know I love arugula (see arugula pasta salad), and I thought it would be the perfect springtime green to incorporate in my pesto. I searched around until I found this recipe for arugula walnut pesto. The author, Elise of Simply Recipes, felt like walnuts complemented the arugula better than pine nuts, which was fine with me because walnuts are much less expensive!
I spent about thirty minutes on a lovely weekend night making this pesto, and froze the extra for later in an ice cube tray. Now any time I want pesto for pasta, pizza or toast, I just have to defrost some green cubes.
- 4 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
- 1 cup of shelled walnuts
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- ½ to 1 full lemon, squeezed
- Over medium high heat, lightly brown the unpeeled garlic cloves, about ten minutes. Peel off the skins once they have cooled down.
- Over medium high heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant, about three to five minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the arugula, salt, walnuts and all the garlic.
- Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil.
- Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper and a big squeeze of lemon, to taste.
- Adapted from Simply Recipes.
- The lemon brightens up the flavor of the pesto and is, in my opinion, essential to the recipe.
- This recipe yields enough pesto to toss with pasta for 6 to 8 people. Feel free to double the recipe if you really want to make it in bulk. I live alone so this is plenty of pesto for me!
Note on freezing pesto: Some instructions on freezing pesto suggest that you leave out the parmesan altogether, and add fresh parmesan to your pasta when you’re ready to eat it. I haven’t had any problems with my frozen pesto, which includes the parmesan, but I thought I’d throw the suggestion out there.