I love arugula, and loved it even more when I learned how to tame its bitterness and highlight its peppery spice. All it takes is some acid, fat and salt and you’re in business.

Satur Farms in Long Island is harvesting their Wild Arugula and I enjoyed my first batch of the season last week. Come Monday night, I had leftover greens and no appetite for my usual foolproof salad preparation (good olive oil, vinegar and shaved Parmesan). I had some basil in house, so thoughts turned to pesto and turning my favorite salad into spaghetti sauce.

Pesto follows a simple formula that–once you have the green stuff–can be quickly made from pantry staples. Keep the following on hand and you can have pesto at your fingertips all spring and summer-long:

  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • A chunk of aged Parmesan
  • Pine nuts or walnuts in the freezer
  • A few garlic cloves
  • A lemon

To prepare this arugula pesto super-quickly use a food processor. It takes all of 5 minutes to blend, and the sauce does not get cooked (freezes well too). And pesto is not just for pasta, try tossing with Cannellini beans for a vegetarian meal or snack.

Arugula and Lemon Pesto Spaghetti

16 0z spaghetti

1/4 cup walnuts, whole

2 Tbsp pine nuts

2-3 cloves garlic

Pinch salt and pepper

1 cup loosely-packed, cleaned basil leaves

3 cups loosely-packed, cleaned arugula leaves

1 lemon, juiced (about 2 Tbsp)

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Add spaghetti to a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook to al dente; prepare pesto while spaghetti cooks.
  2. In a food processor bowl, add walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper; pulse until finely chopped. Add basil, arugula and lemon juice; pulse until just combined.
  3. With machine on, add olive oil slowly through the feed tube. Turn off machine and transfer pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup cooking liquid in a glass measuring cup. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add 1/2 of the prepared pesto and some of the cooking liquid, tossing to coat spaghetti. Add more as needed to reach a saucy consistency. Toss in halved cherry or grape tomatoes if desired. Enjoy!

Big Dose of Green!

April 22, 2009

Big Green CookbookIn honor of Earth Day, I wanted to mention the release of Big Green Cookbook, by fellow RD Jackie Newgent. I spent several weeks last summer testing recipes in Jackie’s Brooklyn kitchen, and was excited to receive my signed copy last week. Congrats Jackie!

The focus here is on low-carbon, from the food sources (local, seasonal, sustainable) to the cooking methods (limited cooking times, using small appliances). So grab a recycled tote, buy from local farmers, plug in (and then unplug) your toaster oven and get cooking!

Some of my favorites made it into the book, so be sure to check out the Blueberry Crumble Bars, Autumn Black Bean Salad, and Organic Burger Bites (complete with “special sauce”). You won’t be disappointed.

Celebrate Earth Day by clicking below to purchase the book on Amazon and treat yourself to good for you-and-earth recipes.

Big Green Cookbook

spring-chicken5Sunday dinner was inspired by some hot sale items, $0.99/lb whole chicken and $1.49 asparagus. Add some mushrooms, herbs, and polenta from the pantry and you’ve got four plates for $10!

To recreate in 3 easy steps:

  1. Roast the chicken. Generously season a 4 lb bird with salt & pepper. Stuff the cavity with any fresh herbs you may have (I used parsley and thyme). Give a good rub with olive oil. Roast, breast-side up, at 400F for 1/2 hour. Flip the bird (with tongs), turn oven to 350F, and roast another 1/2 hour. At this point I like to flip again, baste the breast and roast another 1/2 hour to brown the skin.
  2. Make the ragout. Prep the veggies while the chicken roasts; cook in the last 10 minutes of chicken-roasting time. You will need:  1 chopped onion, 8 oz quartered baby bella mushrooms, 1/4 cup white wine, 1 bunch asparagus sliced into 1 1/2″ pieces (stems separated from tips), 1/3 cup broth, and a small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley. Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until they release juices. Season with salt & pepper. Pour in the wine and stir up all the brown bits. Add asparagus stems and broth. Cover and steam 3 minutes. Add tips and steam 3 more minutes. Uncover and stir until the broth thickens.
  3. Make the polenta. Begin the polenta AFTER you pull the bird from the oven (polenta, if let to sit, will firm up); this also gives the meat time to rest. Simply follow directions on the package. To make life easier, buy the quick-cooking variety. I cooked my polenta for literally one minute in vegetable broth and then added some fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

After the bird has rested at least 10 minutes, carve away. I like to remove the breasts and slice on a cutting board, then keep the legs, thighs and wings whole. To plate, place a few spoonfuls of polenta on the center of the plate, top with vegetable ragout, and then with slices of breast meat and a chicken leg or thigh. Spoon any vegetable ragout juices and chicken drippings over the meat. Serves 4.