Arugula and Toasted Pine Nut Pesto Recipe

Frances and I restrained ourselves from popping into Italian restaurants (there are many) on our recent trip to Asia, partly because we found the cuisine of each country so spectacular. But that didn’t stop us from dreaming about what recipes from Pasta Veloce we’ll cook on our return to North Carolina. We’ve got the e-book on our iPads so it’s with us wherever we go. What’s a homecoming pasta, we asked each other? We decided it would be Arugula and Toasted Pine Nut Pesto! Simple and delicious and easy to pick up some arugula, garlic, and pecorino Romano on the way from the airport. Fast pasta indeed!

Arugula and Toasted Pine Nut Pesto

Makes about 1½ Cups (360 ml)
Packaged, prewashed baby arugula lets you easily whip up a pungent pesto. If you don’t have pine nuts, substitute slivered almonds. This amount of pesto will sauce 8 ounces (225 g) of pasta, enough for four as a first course or two as a vegetarian main dish.

5 ounces (140 g) baby arugula
⅓ cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (70 g) pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
¼ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
½ cup (50 g) grated pecorino Romano
⅔ cup (160 ml) pasta water, or more if needed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the arugula in a blender or food processor. In a small heavy saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the nuts, reduce the heat to low, and toast until they are very light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the nuts and hot oil over the arugula.

Add the garlic and hot pepper to the blender. Pulse to a coarse puree. Mix in the cheese. Add the pasta water and puree to a saucy consistency. Season with salt and black pepper.

Pasta Veloce: 100 Fast and Irresistible Recipes from Under the Tuscan Sun
By Frances Mayes and Susan Wyler
Photographs by Steven Rothfeld
Abrams, New York