Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pasta with Arugula and Mint Pesto

Our favorite Italian food appears on my blog again. We love eating pasta as you can see from the various pasta recipes that I have posted.  In this one I combine arugula and mint to make a bright and fresh pesto.

When you think of arugula, the first thing that comes to mind is bitter, but I have found that the rounded leafed arugula leaves are not bitter but have a peppery taste and the mint makes the pesto refreshing. Unlike a regular pesto, I add the pine nuts to the pasta instead of adding it to the pesto. The richness of the nuts and the texture really comes through when they are added whole to the finished dish. Also, the Parmesan cheese is added for each serving, so that each person can grate as much cheese as they like. This is a practice that I use when I make any kind of pesto so that I can vary the cheese in the dish that I am using the pesto for.

The pesto recipe is very flexible. Please feel free to vary the quantities of the ingredients based on your personal taste. You can taste along the way while making the pesto and adjust accordingly. And once the pesto is ready, this is the easiest pasta recipe ever.

Angel Hair pasta with Arugula and Mint Pesto

1/2 lb angel hair pasta or spaghetti
5 tablespoons of pesto (Recipe below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Block of Parmesan cheese for grating at the table
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the angel hair pasta and cook for 3 minutes. 
  2. In the meantime, put the pesto and the salt in a bowl large enough to toss the pasta. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pesto. Toss well. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and mix once. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  3. Pass the Parmesan cheese at the table with a grater.

Serves 3
Arugula and Mint Pesto
5 cups arugula, stems removed and chopped coarsely
3/4 cup mint leaves
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the arugula, mint and garlic in the food processor. Pulse till the arugula and mint leaves are coarsely chopped. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and with the motor running, slowly start adding the extra virgin olive oil, till the mixture starts to form a nice viscous paste. It should not be thick like peanut butter and not thin like ketchup, but somewhere in between. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Makes about a cup - will last refrigerated for a couple of weeks. Top up with a layer of olive oil before storing.

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