Arugula / Pesto

Arugula!  This can either be used in a salad, or ground into a fabulous pesto to use on pasta, crackers, or as a sandwich spread.

In addition to having a delicious oak-y, spicy flavor, arugula is a good source of chlorophyll and fiber, as well as of Vitamins C, A, and K.  It is also full of antioxidants and indoles – not surprising since it is in fact a crucifer, a member of the huge Brassica family that includes mustard, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and many other health-enhancing vegetables.   The ancient Romans and Egyptians considered arugula to be a potent aphrodisiac. Modern herbalists go light on the aphrodisiacal qualities and generally recommend arugula as an aid to digestion. 

In the kitchen, the first rule of arugula is to taste a little before you prepare it.  Arugula has a broad range of intensities depending on the growing conditions and place, either field or greenhouse. Adjust the amount you use in a salad or in any recipe according to the strength of your particular batch—and the strength of your palate.  

BASIC ARUGULA PESTO

My all-time favorite thing to do with arugula, something I do almost daily during arugula season, is make it into a pesto. This pesto is good on or with virtually anything–pasta, potatoes, and bread are naturals. Or you can use it as a dip for fresh vegetables, or instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich.

 

3 garlic cloves or one stalk green garlic, stem and leaves

Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste

2 bunches (about 2 cups packed) arugula, washed and spun dry

1/4 walnuts

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 

1.       A true pesto is made with a mortar and pestle, but I generally use a food processor.  Start by processing the garlic until very fine.  Add the arugula, walnuts, and cheese.  Continue processing while drizzling in the olive oil.   Then add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

2.       This makes a fairly thick pesto.  If you want it thinner add more olive oil or lemon juice. If the pesto is to be used on pasta, add a few tablespoonfuls of the water the pasta was cooked in.

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