Traditional pesto is made with basil and parmesan cheese. The cheese is not part of a plant-based diet (did you know that parmesan cheese is one of the most acidic foods?), and my garden basil plants are not up yet. Fortunately for me and my family our local farm has arugula harvested in abundance this week! Arugula pesto has a nice peppery flavor. This recipe uses nuts instead of cheese to add fat and flavor, as well as hold the pesto together. You can use whatever type of nuts you have on hand, and I have even made pesto with almonds. Tip: if using a hard nut like almonds, skip the toasting and soak the nuts in boiling water for 10 minutes or so before blending. This dish is simple to make and easy to love!
Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto
1 Package organic 100% whole wheat penne pasta
3 Cups arugula
3 Cloves of garlic
1/3 Cup toasted nuts (such as pine nuts, walnuts, or cashews)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Cup cooked cannelini or other white beans (or a 15oz can, rinsed)
Pink Himalayan salt to taste (optional)
Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, toast the nuts on a baking sheet in the oven. Turn the oven to 350F and put the nuts in the oven, checking them at 6 minutes and every minute or so after that. The nuts should be fragrant and toasty by 10 minutes (be careful not to burn them).
Put the arugula, garlic, nuts and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor. Process on high for 4-6 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the ingredients down the sides of the processor bowl once during the 6 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to achieve a nice consistency.
Return the cooked and drained pasta to the warm pot used to cook it. Add the cannelini beans and pesto. Mix well until warm. Serve, and salt to taste. Enjoy!