Monday, January 19, 2015

Arugula, Roasted Garlic, and Walnut Pesto with Soba Noodles



As I'd mentioned in an earlier post, the recent rains have had the garden growing like mad. Keeping up before things get ugly has been a fun challenge. Soup was one way to enjoy the bounty, and saved a lot of mustard greens, but why not make some pesto with the wealth of arugula? Done. Details follow.


I started with four-ish packed cups of spicy arugula. That's about a third of what is growing out there right now. After a good washing it went into the food processor along with a half cup of walnuts I'd toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, five cloves of roasted garlic, two cloves of smashed garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. I'd tell you how much olive oil, but I just added more as needed so I'm not exactly sure. You'll figure it out.

It ended well, but I realized too late that in my rush to make this pesto I hadn't taken the big stems off of some of the leaves. The result was a fiercely bitter pesto. I'd needed a fix. First I tried adding some salt in small pinches. It was better, but the bitter notes were still present. Next I tried some different fat in the form of clarified butter which I pulsed into the pesto. Better ... but not there yet. Finally I arrived at some unfiltered honey, adding a little at a time. The results were delicious.

Why, you may be asking, did I use soba noodles? Well, of the six-or-so dry noodles in my pantry at the time the organic, whole wheat noodles just felt right to pair with the spicy, earthy pesto. It worked.

I should mention that Chef Michael Chiarello recommends blanching the arugula, but I like the flavor of arugula so I decided to go raw. I may try blanching the next time out. There's plenty of arugula out there still. Today, however, I'm thinking of a pizza for the rest of this batch of pesto.