Sometimes you have lightbulb moments in cooking. Whether it’s realizing that you can freeze pasta or rice and it’ll still taste great when thawed and reheated, or finding out that bacon drippings make devilishly delicious salad dressings, I love those ‘ah ha!’ moments. One that happened recently to me is the realization that you can make pesto out of pretty much anything. I love classic basil pesto, but always hesitated because pine nuts are just so freaking expensive. Once I learned that you can use pretty much any nut you want, well, it was the starting point of my pesto revolution. Walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, even sunflower seeds work in pesto!
Revolution might sound crazy, but it’s true! What happens when you are craving bright, fresh pesto and all the fresh basil at your store looks, well, not so fresh in the middle of January? Swap in any green you like! My love for arugula is well documented on this site, it’s peppery flavor is just perfection, especially since we want a strong punch of flavor in this pesto, as it’s vegan!
That’s right – no parmesan cheese here! Trust me, you won’t even miss it. Peppery arugula, rich walnuts packed full of anti-inflammatory nutrients, garlic and lemon zest make for an incredibly delicious spread. Make sure to use very good extra-virgin olive oil, and ice cold water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This is delicious mixed into pasta, spread on toast topped blistered cherry tomatoes, or mixed into plain Greek yogurt and served as a dip alongside crudite. The possibilities are endless.
arugula walnut pesto.
1 cup (packed) baby arugula, washed and dried
1/3 cup parsley, leaves and stems
1/4 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor fitted with the blade, add the arugula, parsley, walnuts, garlic lemon zest, cold water, salt and pepper (if desired). Process for 30 seconds or until chopped and combined, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combined. If too thick, add more cold water by the tablespoon until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
Makes about 1 cup. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**