Friday, June 15, 2012

Pasta with Basil, Arugula, and Walnut Pesto

Sometimes the simplest things are truly the best, and pasta tossed with fresh summer pesto is a perfect example.  Peppery arugula gives a nice twist to this pesto, but if you prefer a more classic version, see my recipe for Classic Pesto.

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 cups arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 peeled garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup grated vegan cheese*
  • 1/3 cup vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 cups hot cooked linguine
1.  In a food processor, combine the basil, arugula, parsley, walnuts, olive oil, and garlic.  Pulse 7 to 8 times, until you have a smooth paste.

2. Add the cheese, chicken broth, salt, and black pepper; pulse until combined.

3. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to package directions (you'll want to start with about 1 pound uncooked pasta to end up with 8 cups cooked).  Combine the pasta and pesto in a large bowl and toss to coat.

Serve with a (vegan!) dry white wine, which will pair well with this dish's herbal and vegetable flavors.  Pinot grigio is a good mainstay, or if you can find it, Fruilano from northern Italy is dry, slightly peppery, and perfect here.

*Use any hard, sharp vegan cheese that grates like Parmesan for this recipe - the strong cheddar from Sheese is one of my favorites.  Or try nutritional yeast if you prefer.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 and 1/3 cups), Calories 356 

Tasting Notes:
One of the most decadently, oil-coated recipes I've eaten in a quite a long time - almost too much so, but in an indulgent, once-in-a-while kind of way.  Between the olive oil and broth coating the pasta, this was creamy and delicious.  I'd use smaller garlic cloves (or simply fewer) next time, since the peppery bite from the arugula is enough without adding the bite of raw garlic.  I also would add cherry or grape tomatoes to freshen the pasta up a bit.  But wonderfully, indulgently yummy.  As I mentioned, a sip of dry white wine pairs so well here I almost couldn't stand it.  Wine + recipe = 5, recipe alone gets slightly lower marks for the reasons stated above.


Vegan Extra:
Pesto is just one use for the fresh basil at your market from now until the end of summer.  Here are a few more of my other favorite ways to enjoy it.

Try it in the French condiment known as pistou. This paste goes particularly well with vegan fish fillets.

Sprinkle a chiffonade of basil over a bowl of soup, particular tomato-based soups.

You can't go wrong, of course, with the classic trio of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella (such as Vegan Gourmet).

And finally, if you're going to stick with pesto, try it in unexpected ways. I love dipping French fries into pesto instead of the more-standard ketchup.

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