Chopped: CSA Edition (Arugula Pesto)

28 Feb

Knowing there are people out there still making do with iceberg lettuce in their salads, I feel terribly ungrateful saying this, but I dislike arugula.  Yes, first world problems, right?  We often get this green in our CSA box and I’ve tried to mix it in my salads, but I usually just end up pushing it to the side.  While some people love the lightly bitter spiciness of the leaf, I feel like a 10-year-old forcing myself to eat carrots when I encounter it.

That’s why I was really surprised a few weeks ago when I had dinner at a friend’s house.  Someone brought veggies with a pesto dip and it was SO GOOD.  Way better than any pesto I’d made at home.  And there was something different about it.  Something… spicy.  Turns out, she made the pesto with arugula rather than the traditional basil.  Her recipe came from a cookbook on pestos and tapenades and such (sorry I don’t know the exact name!), but I figured I could use the arugula from my produce box to make my own version.

So, here ya go.

Spicy Arugula Pesto Dip

Ingredients
1 bunch of arugula, stems removed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cashews (I only used cashews because my pine nuts were spoiled, but it worked great)
1 T lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t crushed red peppers (or more to taste)
salt
(I also used Parmesan in mine, but I think it would have been better without so I’m omitting it from this recipe.  And now it’s vegan.)

Put arugula leaves, 1/2 the oil, pinch of salt and crushed red pepper in a food processor (or blender). Pulse until you can fit all the leaves in and everything is mixed. Add the nuts, vinegar and lemon juice. With the food processor running, add the rest of the oil to your preference. If you want a thicker dip, don’t add all the oil. If you want it thinner go ahead and add it all. Don’t process too long. 15-20 sec should do it.

Serve with vegetables, slather on sandwiches or mix with pasta.

To save it for later, pour it into an ice-cube tray like Manda did with the vegetable stock.  If you do choose to add the cheese, don’t freeze it!

~april

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