Monday, June 25, 2012

Arugula Pesto (and 41 hrs of non-parental bliss)

Where the Russian River meets the sea
My husband and I spent the weekend at the coast. We had two kid-free nights in a row. This is the longest we have been alone together since our son was born over 6 years ago! Pretty amazing when you think about it. If you would have told us back in early 2006 that it would be 2012 when we would next have 48 hours (41 actually, but whose counting?) to ourselves, I doubt we would have believed it or been able to comprehend it. We took advantage of our time together by dining at a nice Thai restaurant in Santa Rosa called Sea Thai Bistro. My favorite dish was the coconut chicken soup in which lemongrass was a powerful component. I love the flavor of lemongrass. The menu reads: Chicken Galangal Soup in coconut milk broth, crimini mushroom, cherry tomato, shallot. No mention of the lemongrass but that is what made the soup amazing. Yum!

The next day we did a leisurely 6 or 7 mile hike from the edge of the Pacific over the bluffs to a lush redwood grove and back. There were views of the Russian River flowing into the sea as seen in the photo above. There were ferns as tall as us and interesting plants like this lily: 

I consulted my fellow Quincy blogger, naturalist Joe Willis, who posts prolifically here: black oak naturalist, to find out what it might be. Here is his response: It's definitely a lily. Probably a species of Clintonia. Probably Clintonia andrewsiana which has red flowers and blue fruit. So there you have it. Anyway, it was a lovely day full of uninterrupted conversation, synchronized hiking, and quiet moments.....

Back at home, I've been making arugula pesto like mad and freezing it for next winter. I've made it 3 ways so far and will share my favorite. Pesto (from the Italian pestare: to crush, grind, or poundconsists usually of nuts, oil, garlic, salt, cheese, and leaves of an herb. The most typical combo is basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt, and parmesan cheese. But let your imagination be your guide. You can use sundried tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, or arugula in the place of basil. You can use any kind of nut. You can use any kind of hard cheese. You can play around with different oils and salts. The possibilities are endless. I experimented with walnuts, pistachios, and cashews in my 3 different versions of arugula pesto and the cashew version was, hands down, my favorite.

Cashew Arugula Pesto
3/4 cup raw cashew nuts
1 clove of garlic
1 to 2 oz. of dry cheese cut in chunks (I used an aged dry Monterey jack)
a large bunch of arugula
1/4 cup of olive oil (or more depending on the consistency you like)
salt to taste
Place garlic, cashews, and cheese in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add the arugula leaves and the oil and process again until it looks like pesto. Open the lid and scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula and sprinkle in some salt. Blend again. Adjust salt and oil to your preference. Done! *********** I've been eating it with rice crackers and on spiral rice pasta; husband has been slathering on sandwiches. The little bit of hard cheese doesn't seem to upset my tum-tum :-) And again, it freezes well.



  1. Wow! Clintonia...I've never seen one. The first photo looks so much like edible blueberries. Isn't it amazing and beautiful how forms repeat themselves, peppers and human hearts, walnuts and brains.

    It is walnuts I usually use in pesto because that is what grows on our place, but I am going to try cashews. Thanks for the idea.

    I still have the gluten-free baking book from the library.

    1. What was the flour or starch she used in the crepe recipe?

  2. Pesto looks great, but with cilantro.....not so much.

    1. Yeah, cilantro tends to be a love/hate thing.

  3. Looks like a great trip. We always found when we got time to ourselves the first few hours was spent talking about the boys. :-)
    I will have to try arugula a favorite around here. I usually use walnuts anymore as most pine nuts are coming from China. Like Mary I will have to try cashews. We made stinging nettle pesto this year. It was delicious and very good for you!!!!!
    Basil is struggling this year with our cool rainy temps, with a day of summer here and there.

    1. Mmmm. I'd love to try stinging nettle pesto someday. And yes, at one of our most romantic/sentimental moments sitting on a bluff overlooking the sea we had a conversation about what we liked best about being parents:-)

    2. Looks like Clintonia borealis, (bluebead lily) has small yellowish flowers and the blue fruit. Lovely.

    3. Thanks for the clarification!

  4. MMmmmm! Made a couple of batches of the pesto this eve, So good!

    1. Glad you had a chance to try it and glad you like it! Mine is getting spicier and spicier as my arugula goes to seed but I still love it. We are counting down the hours till we will see Spud and friends!