Thursday, May 28, 2009

when your garden gives you arugula

For me, week night dinners are often difficult. Jevan or I try to make a dinner game plan that involves a stop at the market on the way home. Often our day becomes so busy we forget and both end up at home hungry and impatient. At least that's me. Once home, there's a tiny chance either of us will leave the house to pick up supplies. It's not that we are far from a store, more the principle. If this is the case dinner inevitably involves us standing in front of the refrigerator snacking on whatever crosses our path. Said dinner might include leftovers, cheese and crackers, cornichons and olives. All a plethora of random items that on their own might make for a fine snack but as a whole only fills our bellies and never satisfies the need for dinner.

To bypass this feeling we have a few simple meals that can be prepared on a moment’s notice and involve many ingredients in the pantry. This also helps with any instances of, I Went to the Store and Forgot to Buy ____ Syndrome. A syndrome I happen to be very susceptible of. One of these week night meals is a simple pasta dish with pesto. An arugula pesto at that.

Earlier this month, I showed you my little garden. While very modest, it was just getting started with sprouts of green popping up everywhere. I was a very proud mom. Now that the garden has grown a bit I'm ready to show it off once again. As a matter of fact, we are busting at the seams with arugula and lettuce. So much so we don't really know what to do with it all. A few evenings ago we made a version of pesto with arugula instead of basil and paired it with linguine, tomatoes and red peppers. If the color doesn't make you happy, I'm sure your taste buds will oblige. Pesto happens to be equally perfect in pasta or spread on a piece of bread. So be sure to make a little extra. It will keep for a few days.

The Italians classically toss pesto with linguine along with some green beans and potatoes, but like most Americans, I’ve bastardized the dish: I treat it as a quick dinner fix. A way to get a healthy, satisfying dinner on the table after working a long day. Instead of beans and potatoes I often add thin slices of zucchini, sometimes chunks of salami, maybe even a little buffala mozzarella. Usually it's whatever I happen to have in the fridge. If you don't have pine nuts on hand you could also use walnuts, raw green pumpkin seeds or even sunflower seeds. And, if you want to fancy it up a bit, toss in a little truffle oil. Another nice addition would be homemade breadcrumbs. Now, you have a dinner you can get excited about rather than just something to fill the void.

Makes about 1 cup
Active time:
15 min Start to finish:15 min

cup pine nuts
2 cups
fresh arugula, tightly packed
large garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

course salt

cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with sea salt.

Pulse nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic paste and arugula and pulse until finely chopped. Add cheese and oil and pulse to combine.

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