Arugula, Walnut, Tomato Pesto Linguini

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Growing up the only pesto I knew of was traditional basil and pine nut pesto. Maybe if you were daring you might heat it up and add some cream before tossing it with pasta. Sometime within the past 10 years or so it seems people started to make pesto from any variety of things ranging from peas to cauliflower to arugula.

While I love the flavor you get when you make pesto with ingredients besides basil and pine nuts, I love the cost even more. Have you bought pine nuts recently? They cost upwards of $32 a pound where you can get walnuts for $9. Basil? It’s really simple to grow but I rely on buying it (since, ya know, I live in an apartment) and it’s far from cheap at a store. Every now and then I love a traditional pesto, but most of the time I’m just too cheap to pay the price, plus I think variations offer more flavor.

Up until this week, a broccoli-based pesto was my personal favorite, but this arugula, walnut, and tomato pesto was spot-on (althought I lost a piece of my food processor while making this…. totally the pesto’s fault, not mine). Most importantly, it was so versatile. Perfect to spread on bread or crostini and exceptional when tossed with shredded chicken and linguini.

Arugula, Walnut, Tomato Pesto Linguini

Adapted from a variety of sources

  • ½  cup of shelled walnuts
  • 2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed (roughly half a bunch)
  • ¾ cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken stock (I used chicken stock in lieu of an additional ¼ cup of olive oil)
  • 3-5 peeled garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tomatoes (I used vine ripened, but any smaller to medium sized tomato like a Roma would work fine)
  • 1 lb linguini (I used whole wheat although any pasta would work)
  • 2 shredded chicken breasts (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

1. In a dry pan, lightly toast walnuts over medium heat. This took about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the nuts didn’t burn. Let cool.

2. Mix together nuts, arugula, cheese, olive oil, chicken stock, and garlic together in a food processor. Pulse until blended into a uniform, loose paste. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Feel free to use this as-is. It’s intensely green, garlicky, and light.

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3. Remove pesto from processor. Place chopped tomatoes in your food processor and lightly pulse.  Add your pesto and pulse until mixed. When you incorporate the tomatoes you’ll need to aggressively season with salt, as the tomatoes will absorb a lot of your existing flavor.

4. Prepare pasta per package instructions; however, cook for one minute less than instructed. Drain pasta and place pesto into the same pot. Heat pesto and add chicken (if using). Mix back in pasta and toss with pesto sauce. Let cook a minute or two more. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Lastly, I want to point out how quick and simple this recipe is. I did my shopping at a new grocery store whose layout was…. confusing. I wondered around aimlessly trying to find everything on my list and then ended up getting stuck behind the slowest drivers in the world. By the time I got home I was hangry (so hungry I was angry) and the last thing I wanted to do was spend an eternity in the kitchen. Thankfully I walked in the front door with my groceries and within 20 minutes was eating pasta!

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3 responses to “Arugula, Walnut, Tomato Pesto Linguini”

  1. Sam says :

    Sounds like the best combination!

  2. Liz says :

    Great combination of ingredients!

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  1. Pesto Mushroom Chicken «Dizzy Busy and Hungry! - April 2, 2013

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