This is amazing.
I love pesto of all kinds – jarred sundried tomato, fresh with basil, drizzled over fish…all of it. There’s something about herbs and cheese that just gets me every time.
This is SUPER lovely. The bite of the arugula with fresh jalapeno? Amazing. Then, we add the regular garlic/cheese/olive oil combo and some toasted pumpkin seeds to round everything out.
Pesto is nice as a make-ahead, too. You make the pesto a few days in advance, then just cook pasta and stir it all together when you want to eat. Plus, a blender or food processor basically does the work for you SO you have no excuse to not make this IMMEDIATELY.
Here’s what you need!
- 3 cups fresh arugula
- 2 cups fresh parsley
- 3 scallions (or 2 if they’re very large)
- 1 – 2 jalapenos (depending on your preference for heat), stems removed
- 1 clove garlic
- zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt, to taste
- 4 – 6 servings short-cut pasta, for serving
- 3 tablespoons capers, optional
There isn’t really any prep work for this since the food processor does everything for us! If you want to serve this right away, bring some water to a boil while you make the pesto.
For the pesto, combine 2 cups of the arugula (reserving 1 cup for the pasta), the parsley, scallions (cut into 4 inch pieces so they fit in your processor), jalapenos, garlic clove (peeled, duh), lime zest, pepitas, and cheese. I leave most of the stems on the parsley and arugula for this because it all has great flavor and everything gets pureed anyways.
Sprinkle in a big pinch of salt, too.
Then pour in about half the olive oil. We want to form a thick smooth paste, so you maybe have to drizzle in a bit more.
Process the pesto until very smooth, for about 2 minutes. If it sticks to the sides, add more olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until the pesto comes together and is smooth. Taste the pesto, and add more salt if you’d like. If your jalapeno was very spicy and the pesto is too strong, you can add equal parts of more arugula, parsley, and olive oil until the pesto is milder.
Now, when the pasta is very close to being done, ladle a few spoonfuls of pasta water into the pesto to thin it out just slightly.
And, turn a skillet to medium high heat with a little cooking spray or drizzle of olive oil. Remember those capers? We’re gonna fry ’em. Have you had a fried caper? It’s basically the most delicious thing in the world. No joke. Just add the capers to the hot pan, let them dry out for a bit, and when they get dark on the edges they’re done! Seriously a sexy topping, but you can skip this step if you’d like.
OK. We’re ready. Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the hot pot. Then add half the pesto, another handful of pumpkin seeds (optional), and the rest of the arugula.
Stir everything together, and taste. Do you want to add more salt? The rest of the pesto? Some more parm? An extra drizzle of oil? It’s your call! I ended up using about 2/3 of the pesto and saving the rest for later.
Serve this with extra pepitas and the fried capers. I like to add some crushed red pepper to mine, too – but that’s because the frozen jalapenos I’ve been using aren’t terribly spicy.
Look at this cute bowl! Courtesy of my sister.
Enjoy this! It’s a great twist on regular pesto and adds a GREAT flavor to any pasta. The arugula adds some nice nutrition to the pesto, too, and you could add a handful of spinach if you really wanted to add some vitamins to the mixture. No matter how you switch this up, it’s REALLY delicious.