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Arugula-Basil Pesto

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This was sort of a "something old, something new" kind of pesto.  We had arugula in the garden that had started to bolt, so it needed to be picked NOW.  And I still have small containers of basil pureed with olive oil that I froze last fall.  Just a few, and I need to use them up before the new basil starts going nuts.

I love arugula – the peppery flavor and dark color are dramatic additions to a salad or sandwich (or pretty much anything else).  And while I would have been fine with a purely arugula-based pesto, and so would my husband, we still had the kids to feed, and it may have been just a bit too harsh for them.

So I figured I could use some basil to lighten and sweeten things up.

The kids pulled up the arugula for me, and I trimmed the ends (and dirt) and rinsed off the leaves.

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My basil had thawed, so I put on a pot of water for the pasta and got going on the pesto.

I don't follow a recipe – maybe I should – I just throw in a bit of this and a bit of that, depending on what we have and what kind of mood I'm in, culinarily.

For this batch, I put the arugula and some olive oil in the food processor, ran it for a bit, and then poured in the already-pureed basil/olive oil mixture.  I blended the two together and let them sit while I waited for the water to boil. 

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I wanted garlic in the pesto, but I didn't want the rather harsh flavor of fresh basil.  I figured there was enough zing coming from the arugula.  So I peeled and smashed 5 cloves of garlic and put them and some olive oil (about 1/3 cup) in a small pan and set them over a low flame.  I just wanted to warm the garlic and mellow out the flavor a bit.

While that was going on, I shredded the remaining 5 roasted chicken thighs from the previous night's dinner and set them aside.

Once the water came to a boil, I cooked my pasta and finished up the pesto. 

I added some salt and pepper, and then I grated some parmesan cheese into the bowl of my processor.  I also added about two tablespoons of bleu cheese and about the same amount of camembert.  I wanted the creamy texture from both cheeses, and the slight tang of the bleu, balanced by the milder flavor of the camembert.  I pureed it all together, tasted it, added a tiny bit more salt, and was ready to go.

Once the pasta had cooked, I drained the water and added the shredded chicken.  Then I poured in the pesto, mixed the whole thing together, and served it.

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I'm happy to say both kids (and husband) loved it.  Alex – as always when he likes something – was quite effusive with his praise.  Bill and Julia just ate.  Either way – a quick and easy springtime success.

Oh – and I know – where are the nuts?  I didn't use them this time around. 

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3 thoughts on “Arugula-Basil Pesto

  1. I love arugula and basil pesto. This dish sounds delicious. Especially the addition of the bleu and camembert cheeses. What a great idea!

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