Winter Greens Pesto

Another cabin fever recipe…

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Last week we were stuck at home, recuperating from some bug or another that just didn’t want to leave our house.  We’ve finally rid ourselves of all symptoms, so I have the time (and hands) to write this.  As I was experiencing that “we’ve-been-at-home-for-5-days-straight” feeling, I attempted to add in a little spice to our program with some inspiration from theKitchn.  I was intrigued when I saw that they had done a piece on winter greens pesto!  What a cool idea!  One typically thinks of pesto as a summer treat, while basil is growing like crazy in the garden.  One doesn’t necessarily think of making it in winter.  I am learning how to incorporate the likes of kale and friends into our diet, but am always looking for new ways to cook with them.  Their main point was that pesto can be made out of just about anything – it is incredibly flexible, so get creative!  TheKitchn had a link of “How to Make Perfect Pesto Every Time” and I really liked their description below:

“Traditional Italian pesto is, of course, made strictly with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and really good olive oil. It’s a classic sauce, no contest.

But you can switch out the basil for another handy herb or leafy green, replace the (crazy expensive, if delicious) pine nuts with a different favorite nut, or swap the parm for pecorino or asiago. Use more or less of anything to suit your tastes. Heck, you can even make a lower-fat pesto by replacing some of the olive oil with ricotta cheese!

Bottom line: green + nuts + cheese + olive oil = awesome sauce, literally. Whiz it up in a blender and you can’t go wrong.”

I tried two different varieties last week just to test out the versatility of this recipe.  First up was arugula, and next was kale; both turned out beautifully.  The two best things about this recipe were that I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry and it only dirtied one appliance.  Since the recipe is made in the Cuisinart, it was super simple to throw together and also a quick clean up!  Like traditional pesto, these versions are great tossed with pasta, spread on a sandwich or bruschetta, or added by the spoonful to your favorite soup!  The recipe I liked the looks of best was from My Homespun Home.  It is delicious!

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Arugula Walnut Pesto
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cups loosely packed arugula
4-5 basil leaves
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1-2 garlic cloves
1/3-1/2 cup high quality olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Finely ground sea salt, to taste

In a food processor, combine the arugula, basil, walnuts, and garlic. Blend until the mixture is a coarse paste, then slowly add in about half the olive oil as the machine is running. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the cheese, lemon juice, and zest, and continue blending, adding the remaining oil until the pesto reaches your preferred consistency–I like it nicely spreadable and creamy. Depending on how salty your cheese is (and, honestly, how finely or coarsely it’s grated), you may need to add a pinch or two of salt at the end. Or more cheese. Everything is better with more cheese.

Enjoy!

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