Have you seen this new item at Trader Joe’s? Wasabi Arugula. The captain at my local store pointed it out to me recently and I gave it a try. This arugula hybrid has all the wonderful peppery flavor of arugula with a little extra kick. It would be perfect in a roast beef sandwich, or paired with a hearty steak and a zinfandel. I went home and I knew exactly what I was going to do with the bag. The idea that had popped into my head? Wasabi Arugula Pesto. Pesto with a punch. I couldn’t wait to experiment.
I love making traditional basil pesto – by the end of summer, my vegetable garden is bursting with huge, bushy basil plants (that started life in the spring as a Trader Joe’s $2.99 live basil plant). I went with my usual recipe of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. I put a spin on the usual Parmesan and instead shredded some of TJ’s Toscano Cheese with Black Pepper (this pecorino is a real gem of a cheese at TJ’s – definitely make a note to buy some for your next crackers & cheese spread). If you’re not crazy about pine nuts or their price (or you are sensitive to the “pine nut bitter aftertaste syndrome” known as Pine Mouth), go with walnuts – they work perfectly here.
The final result was a yummy pesto with lively, fresh flavor – not spicy, but with a touch of mild heat. For the recipe, click here. Serve the pesto with your favorite spaghetti, linguine, or fettucine. Stir it in, coating the noodles, and top with a little extra cheese if desired. Leftover pesto sauce can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen (in a bag with the air pressed out, or in an ice cube tray for handy single-serving cubes)