With the emergence of late spring/early summer and the start of our 2014 CSA season, fresh greens are returning to our table! It was such a long winter and while we enjoyed our hearty storage roots I could not be more thrilled with the return of lively greens. This pesto is simple and quick to prepare, making a weeknight meal easy. Feel free to toss a protein in your pasta like white beans, grilled chicken, or shrimp.
As usual, start by breaking down the greens! Arugula stems are thin, so I just chopped of the bottoms, chopped the greens into smaller pieces, and thoroughly washed the greens before spinning them dry. Unlike cooked dishes, you’ll want very dry greens for the best tasting pesto. The best tool for this is a salad spinner, but if you don’t have on gently dry with a towel.
I like to use sunflower seeds in pesto because they are inexpensive and I like the taste. You can also use pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or even almonds. Whichever nut you use dry toast in a skillet, keep a careful watch, you’ll know they’re done when they just start to brown and smell toasty. When the nuts are toasted, shred the parmesan on the fine side of a box grater.
For pesto you’ll need a food processor, you can probably come up with something using a blender or immersion blender, but if you can invest a nice food processor like this Kitchenaid model. You’ll be surprised how often you use it. Mince the garlic in your food processor by giving it a few whirls with nothing else in the bowl. Then add the sunflower seeds and cheese and pulse together.
Finally, add the greens and lemon then process while streaming in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper, process again, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Enjoy pesto spread on bread or crackers, tossed with pasta, spread over salmon, tucked into an omelette or as a dip for fresh veggies.
1 bunch of arugula
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
juice from half a lemon
salt + pepper to taste
Wash the greens. Remove bottom of stems, and thoroughly wash and dry using a salad spinner.
Mince garlic. Process garlic a few times in the bowl until minced. Add sunflower seeds and cheese and pulse together. Add lemon juice and greens to the bowl, then process while streaming in oil. Add salt and pepper, process once more. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
To serve with pasta, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, then return pasta to the pot, while pasta is still warm add pesto (1/2 cup – 1 cup per pound of pasta) and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, top with fresh grated parmesan. Use gluten free pasta if necessary.