Thursday, March 17, 2011

Arugula and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta with Ricotta

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I put together a green dish for dinner last night for you all to enjoy today. With the official arrival of spring next week, new seasonal produce is showing up at the farmer's market and in stores, including arugula. This dish will best be enjoyed by people who like the peppery, slightly bitter green, but would also be great with spinach for a milder flavor. Pumpkin seeds are pretty widely available now and are also known as pepitas - they bring a nice balance to the arugula, as do the dollop of ricotta and drizzle of olive oil to finish the dish. Plus, it's a quick meal with only a few ingredients which comes together easily on a weeknight!

Arugula and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta with Ricotta
Serves 4

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

12 oz. whole-wheat rotelle/fusilli pasta
1 c. hulled pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. lemon zest
5 c. baby arugula, tightly packed (about 6 oz.)
Whole-milk ricotta cheese, for serving
Black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions, reserving 1 c. of cooking liquid, then drain and return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant, which takes just a few minutes. Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and add 2 c. packed arugula, the clove of minced garlic, lemon zest, and 1 t. kosher salt. Run the food processor and after a few seconds, start adding the 1/3 c. of olive oil through the top of the processor. Run for a few more seconds until the pesto comes together and you have a rough paste.

Add the pesto and 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid to the pot with the pasta, stirring well to combine, and adding additional cooking liquid if needed to allow the pesto to better combine with the pasta. Stir in the remaining 3 c. of arugula, continuing to stir until it wilts slightly.

Divide into serving bowls/plates and top with a large dollop of ricotta, then drizzle with a little more olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

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