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April 15, 2009

Seasonal and Fresh: Arugula Pesto

As the weather warms up I find myself craving fresh, colorful foods like pesto. April is too early for basil, but arugula, one of the first delicate greens to show up at the farmers' market, packs a flavorful punch of its own. It's an unassuming little leaf with the bite of freshly ground black pepper. 


There are thousands of ways to make pesto, and we all have our allegiances. What I love about this mix of ingredients is the way the creamy, mellow pumpkin seeds temper the arugula's spicy notes without masking them. Earthy extra virgin olive oil provides the backdrop for these flavors, so it's worth using the good stuff. 

Rich and peppery, this pesto makes the most of one of spring's first arrivals. It's especially good tossed with whole wheat pasta and tangy grape tomatoes. 



Fresh Arugula Pesto

4 cups loosely packed baby arugula, rinsed, and patted or spun dry
4-6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste*


Combine the arugula, 4 Tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic, pepitas, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth. Taste and add a pinch of salt and the remaining oil if desired.


*I add black pepper to everything, but this pesto doesn't need it–the arugula's got enough bite on its own. 


Makes 1 cup of pesto.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen

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