Friday, February 20, 2009

Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad

I'm not exactly sure how this salad ranks on the health scale, but it is yummy, my child likes to eat it even though it is green, it is quick and easy, and it makes great leftovers for work lunches. I have just found a recipe for arugula pesto that helped Jason to love this dish, too. He is not a fan of basil pesto, but I made the arugula the other night and he loved it. Anastasia finally tried it (it is awfully green, and that alerts her to the vegetable within), stuffed the rest of the apple slice in her mouth, and made an I'm-trying-to-pretend-I'm-not-hating-this-because-mama-really-wanted-me-to-try-it face. What a trooper. We all clapped several times for her bravery. Thankfully, the rest of the ingredients of the pasta dish masked whatever did not appeal to her in the straight pesto.

I altered the pesto recipe a bit, because I felt it needed garlic to really be pesto and I thought honey would nicely complement the apple slices we dipped into the pesto. So, take the arugula pesto recipe, with lovely pictures of the finished product, by CSA Delivery and simply add one garlic clove and a teaspoon(ish) of honey. I am sorry that I don't have a pic of my finished product, but it looked the same as CSA Delivery's, minus the elegant glass and perfectly cut apple.

*A helpful piece of advice: I do not have a food processor. If you don't either, make sure you get rid of all the arugula stems before throwing it into the blender. Maybe chop up the leaves a bit, too. Blenders are not great for this recipe. I ended up using more oil than the recipe called for, which is not my favorite thing to do.

On to the pasta salad... this is a recipe I learned by word-of-mouth at a work potluck. In the past, I have used store-bought jars of pesto when it was not the season to have basil growing in my herb garden. Now that I have an arugula basil recipe, I may never need a jar again! This is good news, as I am aiming to get away from as much processed food as I can. This recipe is not an exact science. I have modified from what was told to me, and I encourage you to do the same. Please let me know if you come up with a neat alternative ingredient, so I can try, too!

Cook a bag of pasta. Drain, and throw into a big bowl. I like to use the curly noodles.
Throw in a can of chunk chicken, or leftovers from one that you cooked earlier in the week.
Add about a 1/2 cup of pesto (not quite all of a small jar).
Add plain yogurt for the consistency you prefer. I generally start with a cup of yogurt and add more until it looks like something I want to eat.
At this point, I am stirring it all together and adding yogurt as needed.

Easy, right? The hardest part is the pesto, if you make it from scratch, and even that is not difficult. Convenience is nice with a hungry child tugging at your leg after a long work day.

The recipe I was told used mayonaisse instead of yogurt. I don't use mayonaisse for anything other than leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches and the occasional batch of artichoke dip. (Now that I'm saying that, I'm going to try making the artichoke dip with yogurt instead.) So, use whatever you like. I am a fan of Nancy's Organic Fat-Free Plain Yogurt and try to always have it in my fridge.

Enjoy! I need to work on my food photography...

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