Saturday, July 16, 2011

Arugula Pesto

I would like to first apologize for the month-long hiatus I have taken from blogging. After I returned from Alaska, I fell upon the huge chore of moving out of my old house and dealing with unexpected work complications.  I am officially moved into my new home and the keys from the old house were turned in yesterday.  Finally. I've still got a lot to do in the next few months, but I'm hoping to have more time to make food and blog.

One disclaimer before I continue: The lighting is much different at the new house, so until l I figure out an indoor lighting set-up, most shots will have Dave holding a dish or ingredient outside. 

And on to the pesto.  My mother had a wonderfully huge garden at our old house. At the peak of the summer, my parents would harvest their basil and spend a full day making loads of pesto. We had so much pesto that it would easily last us throughout the year. In fact, I reached a point as a teenager in which I hated pesto.  Yikes. I took a few years off from the green stuff and I'm thankfully back on the pesto train.

I can only take credit for documenting this recipe.  Dave not only brought home the fresh greens from the farm where he works, but also he alone developed this recipe from 101Cookbooks.  It is very close to the classic, with Parmesan and pine nuts, except very little olive oil.  Also, the intensely flavorful arugula is mellowed out by spinach, but you could certainly throw in another mild green, like chard.

Arugula Pesto
from Dave Renn

Besides being great on pasta, this pesto's thick consistency makes it an ideal topping for crostini. Potluck status. 

1 large handful arugula (about 2 loosely packed cups)
1 small handful spinach (about 1 loosely packed cup)
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp pine nuts
pinch of salt and pepper
3/4 cup parmesan, shredded
2 Tbsp olive oil

     suggested alternatives
  • Use basil instead of arugula and chard in place of spinach.
  • Replace pine nuts with toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Use about a 1/4 cup of olive oil for a smoother pesto (great for pizza).

Place half of the greens in a food processor or blender.  Pulse about 5 times to coarsely chop the greens. Add the remaining greens and repeat. Add the garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times until the greens and garlic are in between coarse and finely chopped. Add the pine nuts, salt and pepper, and repeat.  

Place the mixture in a medium-sized bowl.  Gently fold in the cheese. Add the olive oil.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Store leftovers in the fridge for about a week or forever in the freezer.


  1. why is the so little oil? Is arugula moister than basil?

  2. It's definitely different than classic pesto with it's thicker texture. There's a lot more cheese and less oil. Somehow it works. I can't explain it. If you're feeling hesitant, then you could always add a touch more oil. That's the beauty of pesto.