Wednesday, May 2, 2012

arugula & almond pesto

SO. Springy. our yard is full of pretty and good-smelling flowers and i am so ready for backyard cookouts and trips to the beach. i also just took my last law school final EVER and i'm getting an iphone finally, so things are really looking up for old me. this pesto is just the kind of quick and easy spring pick-me-up that i want right now.

arugula has something of a weird reputation, i think. if you look up "arugula" and "liberal" together, there will be a great many results. i'm not sure why arugula is supposed to be more liberal-food than, say, baby spinach (aside from the David Kamp book and the manufactured Obama-elitism thing), but there you go. personally, i prefer to call it "rocket" like the british do. it sounds much cooler. 

this something-like-pesto is extremely simple and could no doubt be dressed up in any number of ways. i like to keep it basic and then use it on lots of different things - sandwiches, frozen pizza, and cheese & crackers are just a few of the things that benefit from the addition of a peppery and pleasantly bitter arugula spread.

you can probably make this with a mortar and pestle, but i found the food processor to be awfully quick and convenient. just blitz together a few handfuls of toasted almonds with 2 - 4 smallish cloves of garlic. it's good to break the garlic up a little before adding it to the processor to make sure it all gets incorporated together.

once the almonds and garlic are ground together (in tiny crumbs, not necessarily a paste), start adding the arugula (ROCKET!). i used about 3/4 of a 7 ounce bag, but it isn't rocket science (or is it?). also add some olive oil. this moistens everything and makes it more sauce-y. you will need perhaps 1/3 of a cup or less - i like to drizzle it in a little at a time while the processor is running.

to cut the bitterness a little, i added some orange juice - perhaps 1/4 of a cup or so - whatever came out of half of a fairly juicy orange. the acid in the juice also helps to keep the pesto a bright vibrant green.

that's it, really. blend everything together until it's at a good texture. if you want to thin it out, add more oil and/or juice. also add some salt, to taste. you could use some parmesan or asiago or something to make it more like traditional pesto, but i like using it on cheesy things (aforementioned sandwiches/pizza), so i like to keep it plain. 

it's a particularly great sandwich topping when mixed with a little cream cheese or soft goat cheese and spread generously onto nutty, seedy toast and accompanied by gruyere/cheddar cheese and some peppery turkey. or, you know, whatever.

it might be obvious, but this is really only good if you really like arugula. it's pretty bitter, so it probably isn't for everyone. 
2-4 small cloves garlic
1/2 - 2/3 cups toasted almonds
5 ounces or so fresh arugula
1/3 cup olive oil (or more, to taste/texture preferences)
1/4 cup orange juice (or about 1/2 an orange's worth)
salt, to taste

listening to: rocket man (shatner, ftw!), saint etienne

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