Sorry I haven’t cooked in a while. The truth is, I’ve been extremely busy with midterms and essays and projects that I have actually been braving the cafeteria more often than usual. I guess I should be taking advantage of the meals that I’ve already paid for… at the same time, there’s nothing better than a dorm-cooked meal, if you know what I mean.
This past weekend, I was able to “get away from it all” with my boyfriend. We went to the beautiful town of Truckee, CA, near Tahoe, and had a marvelous time with nothing to stress us out. We took advantage of the adorable and tasty restaurants, but did manage to cook one night, and I made him the Arugula Pesto I discovered this summer in Cooking Light Magazine. I really enjoy this magazine, although I still alter most recipes that I get from anywhere, Cooking Light is a great way to take somewhat unhealthy foods and learn how to cook them in a healthy way.
Here are a few notes about pesto. First, I really don’t like pine nuts. I order everything that comes with pine nuts, without them. I think they don’t add anything to a dish, and they really don’t add anything to a pesto. Although I can’t order pestos without pine nuts in restaurants, or ask people who are making pesto for me to exclude them, I still will eat them, but I have made many different kinds of pestos and never used pine nuts, and enjoyed ALL OF THEM immensely. Although the original recipe calls for pine nuts, I made the pesto without them, and I will tell you two ways you can substitute them that are both delicious. Second, some pestos can come out extremely strong if you are not careful, so be careful in your measurements the first time, just in case you’ve never made any pesto before. In addition to the delicious pestos I’ve made, I’ve made the really gross ones too. Third, if you make this pesto, keep in mind that you’re adding Arugula, if your kids like pesto, you’re getting them to eat a vegetable.. isn’t that great?
Linguini With Arugula Pesto
12oz uncooked linguini
1 T pine nuts, toasted (optional in my recipe)
1 clove garlic
2 cups loosely packed arugula
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 T grated pecorino romano cheese, or parmesan is just fine too, don’t splurge if you can’t.
The recipe states that you should cook the pasta in water without salt, and without adding any butter or oil at the end. I agree with this, this pesto is a little bit on the salty side, and the amount of oil in the pesto can be a bit much if you add oil or butter to your pasta, but since you are doing this, you should have your pesto done and ready by the time your pasta is cooked.
You’ll need to reserve about a half cup of the cooking water from the pasta. This isn’t always necessary for chunky sauces, or thicker sauces that there is more of, but pestos and some cream sauces really need the cooking water, so when your pasta is cooked, just dip a 1/2 cup measure in the top and save the water. The starch in the water will help the pesto adhere to the pasta.
To make the pesto, put the garlic in a food processor and mince it, then add the arugula, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and process until well combined. If you are not using pine nuts, put in a half tablespoon more of olive oil, or put a few small chunks of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese in your mixture, if you are using pine nuts, mince them up with the garlic at the beginning.
Once the pasta is cooked and drained, and the pesto is all mixed together, combine the two with the reserved cooking water in the pot you cooked the pasta in (no need to have to clean a bowl for this, unless you are serving it to “fancy” guests), toss together, and serve with cheese on top.
I served this pasta with a side salad of arugula and pickled sliced beets. It was delicious.
Love and Happy Spatulas,
PS: If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. I lucked out with the gift of the Magic Bullet, and that is what I ended up using for this recipe.