Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easy Pasta with Arugula & Walnut Pesto

There's something about Pasta that makes it a favorite weeknight dinner - Yes, the ease to prepare it, and the vast variety of sauces that one can conjure to make any Pasta recipe a different-than-last-time one. Not to mention that its a hit with kids and parents alike! But what I like about it is the fact that I can easily sneak in some healthy ingredients into the sauce or the recipe, without getting strange looks from those at the table! Like this one, which uses Arugula & Walnut Pesto to bring together the flavors of cooked Fettuccine. Walnuts have healthy omega-3 oils, while Arugula is a powerhouse of vitamins and antioxidants; plus, its distinct spicy tangy zesty flavor complements well with the nuts and with garlic, making it a delicious Pesto recipe. Some people shy away from these dark leafy greens, but give this recipe a try, and you may find yourself to start liking Arugula, after all! [Recipe & photo courtesy of Fine cooking magazine]

Research suggests that the nutrients found in dark green vegetables may prevent certain types of cancers and promote heart health. It is recommended that teenage girls eat 3 cups of dark green vegetables per week, or about 1/2 a cup every day. Arugula is one such member of this leaf family which is often ignored in day-to-day cooking. Arugula has a peppery taste and is rich in vitamins A, C, and calcium. Arugula can be eaten raw in salads or added to stir-fry, soups, and pasta sauces.

4 oz (3 cups) arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
Kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 lb dried fettuccine or sphagetti

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the fettuccine or sphagetti in the boiling water until it’s al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and sprinkle 1 tbsp olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.

Meanwhile, put the arugula, parmesan cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 tsp. salt into a food processor, and process until the mixture is finely ground, 30 to 60 seconds. In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil and walnut oil. With the food processor running, drizzle the oil through the feed tube, and process the mixture until mostly smooth, just like regular Pesto.

When ready to serve, toss the Fettuccine with enough of the Arugula-Walnut Pesto to generously coat the pasta. Serve sprinkled with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired. We enjoyed this with some store-bought Garlic bread for a wonderful weeknight dinner. I'm sure you'll love it too!

Related Recipes
Fettuccine in Roasted Garlic Tomato & Champagne Sauce
Pasta Salad with Avocado & Feta Cheese
Spaghetti with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

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