Fresh basil simply cannot be found in January in Northern California.
Last week, I tried four grocery stores and each time, came out empty handed. This definitely was not helping my pesto craving. Then, I remembered trying an arugula pesto years ago at a restaurant in New York City. Unlike basil, peppery arugula thrives in cold weather, producing the perfect wintery pesto.
I used store-bought gnocchi for this recipe because, let’s be honest, it’s quick and easy! You could definitely make your own though if you prefer—a butternut squash gnocchi might be a nice touch to the slightly spicy pesto.
Arugula pesto is definitely bolder in flavor than basil pesto and because of that, I don’t like to overwhelm mine with raw garlic. The toasted walnuts add a delicious depth of flavor that I think you’ll love. However, if you have pine nuts on hand, it’s an easy substitution.
Gnocchi with Fresh Arugula-Walnut Pesto
- 1 package whole wheat or regular gnocchi, about 3 cups (OR make your own!)
- 4 cups baby arugula, packed
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese. Process until smooth.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing until you have a smooth, bright green pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water until they float (this will only take about four minutes---watch them!). Drain and then place back into the pot. Add ½ cup of the pesto and toss to coat.
- Serve bowls of gnocchi with additional parmesan cheese on top.
Yield: 4 servings
Jenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on EatLiveRun.com where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.