Thursday, July 21, 2011

Basil – Arugula Pesto Pasta

Random story - one of the first times I had pesto was during a business lunch when I was working at American Ballet Theatre. We were meeting a high society donor for lunch at Union Square Café and I was absolutely terrified that I was going say something stupid or get a giant piece of spinach stuck in my teeth. Unknowingly I ordered the pesto, which is basically a spinach tooth just waiting to happen. Luckily I managed to get through the lunch without completely embarrassing myself, but lesson learned for all future dates and/or business lunches with intimidating high society ladies!
Photo via ladies that lunch
And yes, we're still rockin' the flapper style in NYC....the more you know!
I love pesto and usually make a big batch at least once per summer so that I can freeze the leftovers. I’ve heard it's possible to freeze pesto in ice cube trays and then put the frozen cubes in freezer bags for storage. That’s too fussy for me though so I usually wait until the pesto firms up in the fridge a bit and just spoon it into a log shape on a sheet of Saran Wrap. Then I just wrap it up in the Saran¸ throw the whole thing in a freezer bag and cut off pieces from the frozen log as needed.

*Hey, look at that.....another bonus drink recommendation! I was in a very Italian mood tonight and decided it was time for a Campari Americano happy hour....yay happy hour! If you want to play along from home, a Campari Americano is simply 1 oz. of Campari, 1 oz. of vermouth and some seltzer water combined over ice in a glass. If you’re feeling fancy, you can throw in a twist of orange or lemon peel, but I’m usually pretty unmotivated when it comes to garnishes.

Please note that if you haven’t had Campari before, it is a bit of an acquired taste. I don’t generally like really sweet drinks so the bitterness of a nice Campari Americano is a perfect summer drink for me. When we were in Disney World though, we stopped by the Coca Cola sampling station and discovered that the Italian regional soda (which is called Beverly) is essentially a non-alcoholic, slightly sweeter version of Campari. Now if you want some fun on a sweltering, Florida afternoon just try feeding a bitter orange soda to a bunch of pre-pubescent American boys. I guarantee hilarity will ensue….now that’s entertainment!

Basil Arugula Pesto Pasta
1 package fresh pasta
1 package of basil leaves, washed and picked from the stems (mine turned out to be approximately 3 cups loosely packed)
1 package arugula leaves, washed and picked from the stems (mine turned out to be approximately 1 cup loosely packed)
½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped shallot
2 tbsp. pasta cooking water (cooled to room temperature)
¼ c. chopped walnuts
¾ c. olive oil
Chopped tomatoes
1.   Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 2 tbsp of the pasta cooking water.
2.   Put the next 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to combine. With the blender/food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Note: you may need more or less olive oil depending on the desired consistency.
3.   Combine the pasta with a few tablespoons of pesto and garnish with chopped tomatoes. To store the remaining pesto just put it in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil on top or freeze for later use!

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