Real Food for Real Life

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A lot of pesto...

Rotini with Arugula Pesto, 
Lemon Baked Salmon, and Stuffed Clams

This has been a busy, busy week, and while I have still been cooking, I haven't been writing about it (sorry).  One of the dishes we had this week was an adaptation (but, of course) of a recipe I found at Mama Jan's Kitchen, another of my regular food blog reads.  This recipe, originally from Giada DeLaurentis, called for spinach and Asiago cheese, neither of which I had on hand.  I did however have an unopened package of baby arugula and a wedge of Parmesan cheese, so I went with it.  I also added more garlic than called for (love it),some lemon juice to brighten it (and help keep that beautiful color), and I tossed the rotini with a bit of cream before mixing in the pesto to enrich the dish.  Served with some shaved Parmesan, this was a truly satisfying dish, and went especially well with the Lemon Baked Salmon and stuffed clams that we had with it.

This recipe made a LOT of pesto.  After tossing some of the pesto with the 12oz. of whole wheat pasta I had cooked, I still had a lot left in the food processor.  Out can a brick of cream cheese to mix with a couple tablespoons of the pesto (yum), and I still had about a half cup left.  This last bit I spooned into a small container and stashed it away in the freezer after giving it a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil.  I love when a simple recipe can serve so many purposes.
Arugula Pesto

5 oz. package baby Arugula (or regular)
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large jalapeno, seeded
2 tbs. lemon juice
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the ingredients in a food processor until a fairly fine texture.  Taste for seasoning and it is ready to use.
This can be tossed with pasta as is, or you may choose to add some cream to the warm pasta as well (not the pesto).  I used about 1/2 cup for 12 ounces.  Serve topped with some shaved Parmesan.

Cream Cheese and Pesto

Whenever I make pesto, I mix a few tablespoons with a brick of reduced fat cream cheese.  This works with any manner of pesto, be it the traditional basil, the arugula, or a sun-dried tomato pesto.  This is good on toasted bagel or crackers.  You may wish to try one of the "green" pestos spread thinly on a large tortilla and sprinkled with diced tomato before rolling it up and sliced into "pinwheels."  We actually served these at our self-catered wedding reception so many years ago.

Any pesto that you have left, just pack into a small container, give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and stash in the freezer to use later.  You may even want to make extra just for this purpose.  This freezer method will work with all varieties of pesto and I find 1/2 cup measures to be very useful.


  1. I love arugula and I think it would make a fantastic pesto sauce!! Definitely looks easy enough. I am going to try that.

  2. On Facebook: Pat C., Kelli J., and Sandi P. "Like" this.

    On Facebook:
    Casa En La Cocina said...I'll be mentioning your blog sometime in the next few days :-)
    April 22 at 10:26am

    On Facebook:
    Sandi P. said... ohhhhh really!!!! Wow!! Thanks!!!
    April 22 at 10:27am ·

    On Facebook:
    Sandi P. said... you are talking to me right? ack!!
    April 22 at 10:27am

    On Facebook:
    Casa En La Cocina said... Yes, you Sandi :-)
    April 22 at 10:41am

    On Facebook:
    Sandi P. said... wow thanks.....that is very cool!!!
    April 22 at 11:47am


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