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While traditionally pesto is made with basil, this recipe switches it up with vibrant, peppery arugula that goes perfectly over whole wheat pasta. I made arugula pesto in the past, but neglected to understand the value of recording the recipe. Here is my official first attempt at a delicious and deceptively healthy pesto.

5 cups packed arugula
3/4 cup pecorino, broken up into chunks
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until smooth (alternately, if you like pesto with a bit more texture, pulse until desired consistency is reached).

photo 2 (2)

Use as a dip for vegetables or crusty baguette, sauce for pasta (makes enough for 1 pound), garnish for soups, condiment for sandwiches, etc. (I served it with whole wheat pasta, garnished with grated pecorino and freshly ground black pepper.)

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As I sit here on my lunch break reading a cooking magazine featuring pesto recipes, I realized I hadn’t mentioned a key ingredient I used in the arugula pesto recipe I recently featured on ye ol’ blog: GARLIC.

Use as much or as little as you’d like, but please, use it.

I love when my kitchen sings to me. Sometimes it’s a tender falsetto, other times it’s methodical rapping to a hot beat. Whatever the harmony, when ingredients come out from the shadows of my cabinets and refrigerator to reveal themselves, the song is so sweet.

This time I cooked up some quinoa with vegetable stock, according to the package’s directions (and no matter what that package says, add a bit of butter while its cooking). Meanwhile, I sauteed greens in olive oil (you can use whatever you have on hand; I had arugula leftover from a pesto recipe, and a bunch of fresh spinach that was on its way out). Soaked golden raisins (I hate the regular kind) in hot water until plump and tender, then drained. Combined all of the above, along with a healthy amount of pine nuts. Seasoned with S & P and I was good to go.

Not sure if my S.S. was expecting this for breakfast, but that’s what he got. And he wasn’t sad about it.

This would make for a lovely side dish, but has enough going on to shine as a main entree. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the itty bitty amino acids our bodies need to, you know, do its thing. And that’s something to celebrate. In your underwear, of course.

Now that you have all that leftover pesto, try blending it in the food processor with a can of rinsed white beans. Use it as a dip for crusty bread, crackers, or fresh veggies. Or, of course, you could serve it over pasta, sneaking in loads of extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Now that’s a reason to strut around in your underwear. And, let’s face it–after hibernating during that lame excuse for a winter that we just had, you probably wanna get that rear back in shape. This will help.

It’s Spring, and I must accept it. I, the minority, am annoyed with the lack of the white stuff this winter, and the reality that I’ll have to let another year pass before I’ll be able to cruise down a mountain tumble down a hill on my snowboard on my butt.

To comfort my sorrows, I whipped up a big batch of arugula pesto. And it worked. I mean, who could complain while eating something that looks like this?:

In a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and S & P, using water to thin it out to the desired consistency. Since only a small amount of arugula will fit in the food processor at a time, continue to add more arugula in batches, adjusting the other ingredients and seasoning to your taste.

I tossed the pesto with bow tie pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese on top.

And though I’m still not completely ready to start a new season, I look forward to the pesto.