Look at that lovely nest of bright spring-green happiness. The color of the pesto is everything you would expect, but one bite will tell you that you're not dealing with the usual pesto suspect, basil. It's winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. If you do have access to basil, chances are it's being grown in some warmer clime and then trucked or flown hundreds of miles to your local grocery store.
This trucked/flown in basil, under the best circumstances, will be a pale comparison to the fresh, locally grown basil you can get in spring and summer. So let's swap it for the cold weather nutritional power house that arugula is. And, when we do it, let's also marvel at the peppery, complex, rich, nutty contribution that arugula will make to your pesto which also includes the finest, most nutritious extra virgin in the world.
12 ounces baby arugula washed and spun dry
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup hulled, toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper and salt if used (depending on how salted your pasta water is)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cook your pasta based on the instructions. (I used fresh pasta pictured above)
Meanwhile, combine arugula, garlic, lemon juice, half of the cheese, pumpkin seeds, in a food processor. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil and process until evenly blended until finely processed. No more than a minute tops. Season well with salt (if using) and freshly ground black pepper.
Drain pasta and toss with the arugula pesto and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately with reserved cheese sprinkled on top.
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