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.
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.
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.
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.