Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Why all of the pesto recipes? Well, mostly because Saveur magazine celebrated pesto by publishing dozens of recipes. But also because you get a lot of ideas by exploring one type of food and seeing how subtle ingredient changes make for big flavor differences. It also helps when you crave a dish, but the key ingredient is missing from the pantry or fridge.
In wine, you'd call it a vertical tasting. Sip a bunch of chardonnays or syrah side-by-side and compare the difference between France, Chile, Spain and California — or between northern California and southern California.
We have a friend who loves pesto so much that she probably eats it weekly. We have another friend who loves it so much that he wants to be slathered in it when he's buried (presumably to have something good to eat in the hereafter).
This might be our favorite pesto. Since making it from the recipe in Saveur magazine's paean to pesto, we've tried it on pasta, vegetables, tomatoes, toast, tofu and chicken. This spicy concoction makes them all taste better.
Admittedly, we like arugula. We've mixed it with lettuce and spinach in salads to add a peppery flavor. We've put it on pizzas. We've even had salads that consisted of nothing but arugula and dressing. So, yes, we like it.
But this is arugula in a totally different context, and many people who eat it have to ask what the green ingredient is in this pesto. Along with the cilantro pesto, this was the most popular when we served a spread of pestos. The magazine says it's great drizzled over steamed artichokes or grilled fish.
Pesto di Rucola
2 cups packed arugula
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (we used 3/4 and it was fine)
1/2 cup finely grated percorino or romano cheese
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 clove garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Process all ingredients in a food processor and season with salt and pepper to taste.