This last weekend was my birthday, and I celebrated by hosting a Potluck Salad Bar. I provided the basics (greens, an array of dressings, and smoked fish, cause it’s my birthday and I can do what I please) and others brought their favorite salad accoutrements. It was a huge success, but as I am wont to do, I got a little carried away and bought way too much food. Post-party, my fridge was bursting with greens and my house was laden with daffodils (fine by me). I have a history of over-doing it — like the time I ordered oysters for a New Year’s party, assuming that all 20 guests would shuck/eat a dozen apiece. We were frantically frying up dozens of bivalves the next day. These are exactly the kind of problems I like to have.
This time, I had piles and piles of arugula left in my charge, more than even I could consume in the immediate future. I channeled a distant memory of vibrant, green, summer pesto (fresh from the garden), smeared on, well, anything and everything. This is my favorite way to deal with a glut of basil in my vegetable garden and one that lasts a lot longer than fresh herbs in the fridge. Though pesto is typically made with basil, it can of course be made exclusively from spicy arugula in the colder months. I added a tiny bit of basil to this recipe because it too was a leftover item from this weekend’s festivities, but it wasn’t necessary.
This recipe is vegan, but you wouldn’t know it. When I make pesto, I often forgo the cheese, preferring a cleaner, greener flavor. I find the unctuous pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil are rich enough for my palate. I poached the garlic the way chef/guest blogger Jeff Ross taught me to, which lent the pesto a sweet and mild garlic flavor.
This pesto is basically a salad in a blender: greens, olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Put it on toast or pasta, use it as a dip for crudité, apply it to your skincare regimen – I bet it wouldn’t be so bad…but don’t hold me liable for that.