By Erin Walgamuth
I love arugula. If you asked me what are three things I always have in my refrigerator, arugula would be one of them. I put it on my tacos...weird I know. I put it in omelets and on sandwiches too. I simply find the peppery taste irresistible. A couple of springs ago I decided to make pesto as a side for the steaks my husband was going to put on the grill.
Alas, the basil in the refrigerator was a gross, slimy black yuck! The basil in the garden was not yet ready to harvest and I didn't have any pine nuts either... Dang! I did, however, have some arugula and a big bag of mini pecans that Aunt Ruthie had sent... hmmm. Below is the pesto I made that fateful spring day. It is, of course, wonderful on pasta. I love to put a generous dollop on grilled steak as the strong taste of the arugula holds up very well to beef.
If full strength arugula is too scary, try half basil and half arugula.
You can make the pesto the day before you would like to use it; just put it in a glass container and press plastic wrap directly onto the pesto. I put plastic wrap over the top of the glass container too as this helps to prevent the pesto from oxidizing.
Later this summer, when the tomatoes in my garden are ripe, I will make a delicious tomato salad and use the pesto as a dressing.
Arugula Pesto with toasted Pecans
Makes ¾ cup
2 cups of arugula
1/3 cup toasted mini pecans
2 garlic cloves finely minced or use a garlic press
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 pinches salt
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Note: If you don't have mini pecans just use what you have. I have made this pesto with ½ cup of toasted pecans and enjoyed it very much. So, if you like the taste of pecans, add ½ cup.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put pecans on a flat baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove the pecans from the oven and cool completely. You can do this ahead if you like and store the toasted pecans in an air-tight food storage container.
Put arugula, salt, garlic and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until well combined. Add pecans and cheese and blend well.
Hope you enjoy this recipe.
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.