Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Left Over Arugula Pesto

It does not matter how many recipe books you have piled on your kitchen shelf, or how many articles you have stolen from the doctors` waiting room magazines, sometimes we just do not want to cook, period. As developed human beings we sometimes deserve a rest from the culinary arts for a little more time with ourselves. Reading a book, chatting with a friend, or simply doing nothing allows us to restore energy, organize our ideas, and be more productive, as suggested by some studies (To know more read  here and here ). In other words, we need to transition from doing something that feeds our stomachs, to something else that feeds our brains. I think it is a good bargain!
Yet, it does not matter if we are single or not: dinner time will come. Some people have the luxury to crumble in the couch with a pack of chips on one hand and the remote in the other (probably not the best choice), but many do not. So what to do? Just open the fridge and see what is there? Yes, indeed!
Cooking is not only a question of ingredients, but a matter of combinations. It is basically like dressing up: open the wardrobe, pick two or three pieces and see how to match them in a suitable way. That is it!
In my childhood I saw my full time working mom fix up dinner for six people in literally 10 minutes, using exclusively fresh ingredients. So it is possible, and we do not need to be stay at home moms/dads to do so.
Additionally, it is good for your pocket. In an anti-waste era, it is clear that throwing out food is quite bad for your economy beside being very unethical.
I love to recycle left over vegetables as pasta sauce. Here is one of my favorite:

"Old" Left Over Arugula used for Pesto
 For 4

Average price: $1.50-$2.00

Arugula, 2 cups (When I write old I mean one week max! When it does not look too fresh to be used in a salad but too good to be wasted it is perfect. Do not use arugula with mold or if it looks too bad. You might want to use also parsley, sage, spinach or other green leaves instead of the arugula)
Pasta, 1 pack, penne (I wish I could use Barilla or De Cecco every day, but here in the US this pasta is too expensive. Considering that I basically need a truck a month, I buy regular pasta at Trader Joes and for regular uses I am fully satisfied. For this recipe rigatoni, penne, or other short types of pasta will work)
Cheese, 1/4 cup grated (The one that you have left over in your fridge is fine! Of course some Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano would be the best, but remember this is a non-pretentious meal. Emmental, Gouda, Cheddar, Goat, even Blue cheese. They all work.
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil, 1/4 cup (When it comes to olive oil I am always picky, but I do know that we are not all the same. I use personally imported Italian extra virgin olive oil that I brought from my last trip to Italy. It is called Angelicum Vallone and it is cold processed to best maintain its properties. However, natural olive oil will work too. Just keep in mind that the more natural it is (for example, cold processed and extra virgin) the more tasty and healthy it will be.
Garlic, 1 chive chopped. If you like you can also put two.
Food Processor

Do the pest with me
  1. Put the washed arugula in the food processor. make sure to eliminate the eventual dark parts
  2. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Keep in mind that the more salty the cheese, the less salt you need to add.
  3. Add the grated cheese.
  4. Add half of the olive oil.
  5. Mix all the ingredients with the mixer.
  6. Add the rest of olive oil
  7. Mix again
  8. If the consistency is too thick add one or two tablespoon olive oil and mix again (if you want to keep it low-cal then just add one tablespoon water) 

Do the pasta with  me
  1. Bring to boil a pot of water. (A regular size pot can be filled halfway with cold water. Then cover it, so it will boil faster) 
  2. When the water boils add salt. (Here we can start the discrepancies. I like it more bland, my husband more salty! I would say put two tablespoons of salt, and then see how it tastes for you. Salt is always a grey area in cooking!)
  3. Put in all the pasta at once, then stir every minute.
  4. Make sure to read the instructions for the cooking time. I often use this general rule: subtract one minute or 30 seconds from the suggested cooking time. It makes a huge difference if you like your pasta Al Dente! (the opposite of mushy)  
  5. Strain the pasta WITHOUT exposing it to cold water.
  6. Add the pesto and mix well
  7. Enjoy it! Buon Appetito!

P.S. Arugula does not only taste good, it is also great for you. It is reach of vitamin A,C,K minerals and anti oxidants!! To know more read here