The powerful, pungent, peppery taste of Arugula is not for the unadventurous or unenthused palates. Its slightly snappy, slightly acrid essence is hard to miss even when it is tossed with baby tomatoes and semisoft mozzarella cubes in a sharp, citrusy salad..making the little hands in the family go up in revolt. When tossed with sundried tomatoes, garlic and red chilli flakes in a buttery base and topped with the salty, striking flavor of Pecorino Romano to mix in with tiny pasta shells cooked to al dente perfection, it’s the Daddy-long-arms that wave and waffle in protest. One’s own shoulder shrug should then morph quickly into a cheer-leading posture, one’s fist ought to be seen going up for a victorious air-punch, because there’s a way around this gigantic leafy-green repulsion. While the leafy-green in question could well be trapped in the depths of a soup, or tucked into the floury folds of bread dough, it’s the perky pesto with its rich, nutty, zesty edge that wins this round, hands down.
Nutty Arugula Pesto
- About 1 cup packed fresh Arugula (we used a 7oz bag of organic Arugula)
- Water to blanch Arugula
- 2-3 Pods of garlic, crushed
- 1 Small green chilli (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoons sliced almonds
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (freshly grated or packaged)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring a small pot of water to a boil, throw in the Arugula, or put the Arugula in a soup strainer and plunge it in. Let blanch for about 1 minute, then run cold water on it immediately. Squeeze well before using.*
Put the Arugula and the rest of the ingredients in your food processor container and blend well. Adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste. This pesto freezes really well and also stays in your refrigerator for a few days. You can serve this pesto on toasts, as a dip with chips, or even spread it on tortillas before you fill in your choice of protein to make a healthy wrap. It’s a nice way to sneak some green nutrition into your little ones, with minimal fuss.
* Don’t throw away the water used for blanching the Arugula – use it as a stock in soups, to knead your bread, roti or parantha dough, or even to water down your dals or other lentil-based preparations.