Arugula grows so beautifully in our tiny garden. During the cooler spring weather it grows into a compact, deep green plant with many long leaves. As soon as the warm weather hits, though, each arugula plant bolts upright. Its leaves become very small and few between with a bud at the top of a very leggy stem attempting to blossom. I daily remove (and eat) the buds hoping to encourage more leaves. Even so, I’m losing the battle of the buds.
Arugula Pesto to the rescue
When it’s time to harvest the arugula, it’s time for Arugula Pesto. Over the years I’ve tried a few different arugula pesto recipes. This year’s recipe is my favorite. I’m pleased to share it with you as I would imagine with the heat wave across the country your arugula is also ready to harvest.
Arugula’s rich, peppery taste is fabulous on its own, in sandwiches and salads and as the base of a full-flavored pesto. A relative of cabbage, kale and broccoli, nutrient-rich arugula has more vitamin C, calcium and beta carotene than most other salad greens. Combining arugula with olive oil, as in pesto, allows for more complete absorption of some of these nutrients.
So many uses for Arugula Pesto
- Tossed with pasta
- Spread on a pizza
- Mixed with boiled potatoes
- Stirred into soup
- Added to hummus
- Folded inside an omelet
- Served with grilled salmon or chicken
- Savored on a spoon
My free sample of einkorn rigatoni from jovial foods arrived a few days ago. As it was still sitting on the kitchen counter, the package caught my attention as a perfect base for sampling this recipe for Arugula Pesto. I cooked the rigatoni for about 23 minutes in simmering water then tossed it with the pesto. The einkorn pasta stayed together well and the ridges held onto the pesto making for a very tasty dish.
Are you familiar with this most ancient wheat? It was actually the first wheat species grown by man about 12,000 years ago! As with farro, difficulties in processing it have allowed it to be forgotten these many years and just like farro it has never been hybridized.
BTW, nutrient rich einkorn contains almost two times as much protein and trace minerals as modern wheat. It is also high in B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber.
I’ve just harvested more arugula and am off to prepare another batch of pesto—hopefully with enough extra to freeze some for a winter’s day when it will be even more appreciated.
As basil loves these warm days, check out my recipe for a somewhat traditional Pesto Genovese.
This pesto benefits from sitting at least a half hour before using so the sharpness of the arugula mellows and blends with the other flavors.
Makes a scant 1 cup
2 medium garlic cloves
Rounded ¼ cup walnuts
4 ½ cups arugula, tightly packed
½ cup flat leaf parsley, tightly packed
½ teaspoon salt
6 twists freshly ground pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
With the food processor running, drop in the garlic cloves. When they are minced, stop the machine. Add the walnuts and arugula and process with the pulse button till chopped. Add the salt and pepper and the olive oil. Process till combined. Add the grated cheese and use the pulse button to incorporate it.