Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Midsummer night's Pesto


2 cups arugula
1 cup fresh Genovese basil
3 cloves garlic
1/ 4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 jalapeno pepper
1 table spoon olive oil

We are continuing the exploration of light summery dishes, and for inspiration have to look no further than to the great and simple cuisines of the Mediterranean. Tired from a long day of work, what could be more soothing than a hot summer night’s meal that captures the imagination, plays tricks with the mind and transports the diners to another place and time?

A meal that with one spoonful of pasta and one sip of wine turns the small city apartment’s balcony into the patio of an old rustic farmhouse somewhere on a hill lined with pine trees, dreaming of cicadas and feasting under an endless starlit sky… And what’s not to like if said meal can be prepared in ten minutes? Pesto in all its forms combines these pleasant traits.

For the best time efficiency, I start with boiling the pasta which always seems to take longest when making pesto. Then I throw all the ingredients except the olive oil into the food processor for a smooth green paste. It should be mentioned that the Jalapeno pepper is optional, for my taste, it gives the final product a nice little zing without being too overwhelmingly hot. Also the ratio of arugula and basil is adjustable depending on what is available, and when you get really creative one day, crazy stuff like a bit of lemon juice, baby spinach and all kinds of different herbs can be added.

Once the ingredients are pureed, I add in the olive oil. Hopefully at this point, the pasta is ready to go (I’d recommend either linguine or spaghetti, something long and fine) and can be tossed with the pesto. The best part is that if you have leftovers, the pesto will keep in the fridge for a couple of days (my absolute favorite is to use it as a spread for bruschetta – just put the pesto on toasted baguette).

And now I have to go, have that first magical sip of Chianti that first bite of spaghetti covered in creamy and intensely fresh pesto that will transport us into a night in Tuscany…

Life is good!

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