Smart Cooks: Arugula-walnut pesto with pasta – The Boston Globe

Serves 4

Toasting the walnuts gives the pesto a real flavor boost, but watch them carefully; they go from toasty to burnt in minutes. Double the recipe and freeze some in ice-cube trays (omit cheese and stir in after defrosting). Toss the pesto with a curly pasta that will catch it in its swirls and ridges. It is also a great sauce for grilled meats, fish, and vegetables.

cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula leaves, stemmed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
½ cup grated pecorino romano or Parmesan
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 pound dried cavatelli or other curly pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees.

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2. In a small baking dish, spread walnuts in a single layer. Transfer to the oven and toast for 7 minutes, tossing once, or until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; cool.

3. In a food processor, combine the garlic, arugula, oregano, pecorino romano or Parmesan, walnuts, lemon rind and juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth.

4. With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a thin steady stream. Pulse only until the mixture has a rough texture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and let the water return to a boil, stirring once or twice. Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Drain into a colander and, without rinsing, return to the pot. Add the pesto and toss well.

Catherine Smart

Smart Cooks: Save the pasta water