Summer means a lot of things when it comes to food–berries and cucumbers and tomatoes, to name a few! It’s also a time when herbs are plentiful–almost too plentiful to keep up with. There’s one sure way to tackle this problem: pesto. You can use pesto for so many different wonderful things–pasta (of course), pizza sauce, dip, salad dressing. And you can make vats of pesto and freeze it in usable portions for later (just stop before you add any dairy).
But what if I told you pesto didn’t have to be herb based? While traditional pesto is a combination of basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil, the word is derived from an Italian verb meaning to pound or crush and can really involve any kind of vegetation. So here I’m introducing Arugula Hazelnut pesto. It’s full of flavor and bite, but mellowed out with the subtle sweetness of the hazelnut. If you don’t want quite so much arugula taste, throw in some parsley to balance the flavor a little more.
3 cups arugula
1 cup parsley (optional)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool.
Add the arugula and parsley (if using) to a blender or food processor. Pulse for 5 seconds.
Add the garlic, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper.
Gradually drizzle in the olive oil while the blender or food processor is running. Process until smooth.
Taste to adjust seasoning and consistency. If it’s too thick, add more oil.