I have so many things to tell you I don’t know where to begin. So I’m just going start with today, and we’ll see where we go from there (if you’d like a little more of an intro, I just updated the “About” page). I picked up Week 2 of my CSA (community-supported agriculture, a farm share, for those of you who will be learning from this blog; more on that later) today. Mesclun, arugula, chard, cilantro, garlic scapes (which I’m extra thrilled about), radishes, Chinese cabbage, and an fantastic surprise, strawberries. Which were pick-your-own and I ended up with a huge rash which I hope is from the straw and not the berries (yep, it took me a while to make that connection too, but the bushes do grow in straw beds). Anyway, since I still had some arugula from last week, I decided to make one of my favorites of all things, pesto.
Pesto as I know it is basically some some of vegetable, olive oil, a hard cheese, some kind of nut (pine nuts are traditional for regular pesto, but other kinds work better with other ingredients), and garlic. It can be made out of pretty much anything, and is also super easy. I made kale pesto a few weeks ago, which I will tell you about soon, and plan to make garlic scape pesto, sundried tomato pesto, carrot top pesto, and of course classic basil pesto. Arugula pesto certainly has a stronger and I would say less coveted flavor, but it remains delicious and fresh and green and spreadable over pasta or on sandwiches with melted cheese, which is the whole point. Its bitterness also goes well with sweeter foods – I bit into a few cherries while eating and they added a nice balance. If you have dried fruit (figs go particularly well, my dad added them to an arugula pesto once) I would add them right into the pesto.
I made it in my mini-hand blender food processor, which is pretty much the best appliance ever: a hand blender, with attachments for a food processor and a whisk too. I use it with shocking frequency for pesto, nut butter, smoothies, frostings… I definitely don’t want this to turn into an advertisement but it was the best birthday present to myself ever (I spent a while looking around for sales). However, a regular food processor will work as well or better (especially for larger batches, I had to do this in a few parts because the bowl of this one is small). I’ve tried to make pesto with a knife before, and it can still taste good but it never gets as creamy.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
Arugula pesto 2 cups (packed) arugula A few cloves of garlic, chopped loosely About 1/2 cup of hard cheese like parmesan or asiago About 1/2 cup toasted walnuts 3-4 Tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper A few dried figs, if you want
Cook the garlic in the olive oil in the microwave for about 15 seconds (you can also sauté it if you prefer, but the microwave works fine for this). Place everything in a blender together and whir away. Scrape down the sides at some point, taste, and maybe vary the ratios of oil or other ingredients depending on what texture and flavors you like best.
You will notice that all these measurements are inexact. This is a) because I didn’t actually measure anything so I’m just guesstimating and b) to encourage you to decide what you like best. You can’t go too wrong. Cook up some pasta or make some toast and voilà! Dinner.
(Note: I later ate it some with beet greens and beets and their sweetness was perfect with it. Recommended, although it looks weird.)
Pesto of all kinds freezes very well, so I like to make a fairly large batch and stick it in little labeled containers in my freezer for the wintertime. This is also useful if you are on your own and don’t want to eat buckets of pesto at once (it is easier to make in large batches). Although pesto tends to disappear reasonably quickly, since it has infinite uses (on pasta, grilled cheese, as a dip, mixed into salad dressing, etc).
After I finished the pesto I did end up freezing most of my strawberries, first on a baking sheet and then into bags so they don’t stick to each other, so I can have them for the wintertime as well (I think I mentioned smoothies…). Don’t worry, I kept some out for breakfast and dessert. Nom.