I totally believe that arugula is an aphrodisiac as thought in the Roman times, solely based on the fact that I am head over heels in love with it. The nutty, peppery flavor of the greens, and its ability to work as a crisp salad green or sauteed and cooked to luscious perfection – versatility makes me crush hard core, and baby, arugula has my heart. When used as a replacement for basil in a quick pesto, you get to see arugula truly shine – just barely cooked by the hot pasta, it goes from bitter to complex and rounded in flavor. It’s miraculous and ever so sexy.
I use the pesto to dress dainty orecchiette, petal-shaped pasta from the south of Italy. Named “little ears” in Italian, each bit of pasta is made from a mini fingerprint into a press, forming a crinkly texture that soaks up the pesto. It’s all about the love with a uniting of Northern Italian sauce (pesto is from Genoa) with Southern Italian pasta (orecchiette are from Puglia). And I could just be mentioning love because the arugula is wooing me to do so. Woo away, arugula. Woo away.
Orecchiette with Arugula Pesto
1 lb. of orecchiette
4 loose cups of arugula
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. of olive oil
1/2 c. of grated locatelli (or parmigiano reggiano)
1/4 c. of toasted pine nuts
2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp. of salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, make the pesto. Throw cloves of garlic into the CuisineArt and pulse until finely chopped. Add toasted pine nuts and pulse again. Next, add the arugula (stems and all) and chop until the mixture starts to form a paste. Coax the entire mixture into a smooth paste by slowly streaming in olive oil – stop once everything is blended and evenly chopped. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper and pulse to mix. Taste for salt.
Once pasta is finished, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of pasta water out of the pot. Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the pesto. Dribble in a bit of the pasta water, if necessary, to form a sauce. Top with extra grated cheese and serve.