I really am not a fan of basil. It's always been such an overpowering flavor for me, so when I have something made with the ubiquitous herb, I often have trouble tasting anything else (I feel the same about anise/licorice and rosemary).
Of course, this means that one item is generally off limits in the house: pesto. I like all the other ingredients - pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic - but that crafty member of my beloved mint family just overshadows all those other tasty flavors.
Enter arugula - that peppery leafy green of which Martha Stewart is so fond.
When we started receiving this aromatic (also popular in Italian cuisine) from our CSA share, we had to find different ways to serve it over the several weeks. Otherwise, arugula salad was going to get reeeeeeeeeeeeeally old reeeeeeeeeeeeeally fast.
In one of our several internet searches, Scott came across a fantastic recipe for an arugula pesto that he described with these magic words: basil-free.
The arugula makes it the same vivid green color, but I have to say that the best part of the recipe (I know; you didn't think it could get any better, right?) is the kalamata olives. They add a fantastic salty, briny flavor that interacts so well to the parmesan cheese that is also mixed in.
Tossed over warm pasta, this makes nearly a complete meal (I say nearly because I also had a side plate on which I placed a sliced Roma tomato and watermelon; I sprinkled oregano, dried basil - just a LITTLE - salt, pepper, and parmesan on the tomato, so we had a little lycopene-umami thing going on). Of course, we made sure to use a noodle to which the sauce clings - tonight I used casarecce, which remind me of little paper curls.
It was a little hard to only eat one bowl, even as rich as this pesto is, but I have recently made a very conscious decision to only go back for seconds when (a very tasty) pizza is involved.
Alas, while the words pizza and pasta may be alliterative and similar in their syllabic make-up, pasta is most assuredly NOT pizza, so after dinner I packed up the rest of the pasta into a storage container (lunch tomorrow!), and I spooned the pesto into ice cube trays so we have several more servings whenever we want.