This is basil pesto’s quieter cousin. Where basil pesto is tangy, arugula pesto is delicate. And that’s surprising, because fresh arugula is bitter and pungent, “skunky” to first-timers. But when it’s ground into a pesto – which comes from the Italian word pestare, to grind – the cheeses, walnuts, and olive oil mellow the bitterness, soften the pungency, and bring out a whole new flavor.
3.5 oz (100 g) fresh arugula
1.8 oz (50 g) grated pecorino cheese
1.8 oz (50 g) grated parmesan cheese
1.8 oz (50 g) walnuts
A sliver of garlic (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Add the ingredients to a food processor, drizzle with olive oil, and process. You’re done!
Okay, some notes:
Don’t be afraid to glug on the olive oil; if you keep peeking into the food processor to find chunks of walnut and leaves of arugula, it’s probably too dry. Press it down with a spatula, pour in two tablespoons of olive oil, and try again.
Instead of adding garlic (since even that tiny amount comes back to haunt me), saute a whole clove in olive oil while the pasta water is coming to a boil. Remove it, then add the pesto and heat briefly before adding the pasta.
Whole wheat pasta is made for this pesto.
I think a little spritz of lemon right before tossing it with pasta would be perfect. But I haven’t tried it yet, so don’t blame me.