4 March 2009

Two Years of Pasta Celebration with Arugula Pesto

Spaghettini with Arugula Pesto, Grilled Chicken Breasts and Feta

Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast recently celebrated Presto Pasta Night's Big 100 Celebration . This week she will be celebrating another milestone and celebrating PPN's second birthday!!!! Congratulations Ruth on a lasting and very popular event. Naturally I had to take a walk down memory lane with Ruth and check out the years of history over at Presto Pasta Nights.

To honour the celebration I chose to make a dish based on one from renowned chef Emeril Lagasse. BAM!!! The original salad recipe called for making a salad and you will find the original recipe here . I chose to make a spaghetti dish incorporating the same ingredients in honour of Spring...I did see a Robin yesterday!!!!
The dish is based on arugula which is also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, and is popular in Italian cuisine. It adds a whole new dimension to pesto. Arugula is is high in Vitamins A & C, has only two calories in a one cup serving, and is thought to be a skin clarifier. The other thing I want to mention is that young arugula leaves will make the best pesto with just enough of a "peppery" or "spicy" kick to let you know you are eating arugula. As the leaves mature, they get increasingly stronger and less attractive in flavour. Using toasted walnuts instead of pinenuts balances out the flavours nicely!!

Arugula has been a popular addition in Italian cuisine since Roman times. It was grown for both it's leaves and it's seeds. The seeds were used for flavouring oils. Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. So break out the oysters and the arugula pesto!!! Why not add add some rucolino to round out the meal which is a digestive alcohol made on the island of Ischiain in the Gulf of Naples, which is made from the plant, a drink often enjoyed in small quantities following a meal. The liquor is a local specialty enjoyed in the same way as a limoncello or grappa and has a sweet peppery taste that washes down easily.

**Spaghettini with Arugula Pesto, Grilled Chicken Breasts, and Feta**
based on a recipe from Emeril Lagasse

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Emeril's Essence (recipe follows)
1 bunch fresh arugula, tough stems removed, washed and spun dry, plus baby arugula, for garnish
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta
1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted olive-cured olives

Preheat a grill.

In a food processor, or bowl of immersion blender combine the arugula, parsley, walnuts, garlic, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and process on high speed until the greens are finely chopped. With the machine running, add the extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.

Drizzle the chicken with oil and season with salt, pepper, and Essence. Place on the grill and cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes on the first side, and 5 minutes on the second side. Remove the chicken from the grill and cut into slices.

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta. Toss with some olive oil so it doesn't stick. Toss the pasta with the arugula pesto, to taste. Toss in the red and yellow tomatoes, feta, and olives. Top with sliced chicken and serve.
Serves 8 - 10

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. A summery dish! Mouthwatering!



  2. This looks delicious. It cracks me up when people say that arugula is a nouveau chi-chi food. Italians have been eating it for centuries.

  3. I'd love to try arugula but the stuff at the grocery store here always looks really wilted and iffy, so I haven't bothered investing. Maybe I can try growing some this summer...

  4. I enjoyed reading you - and learning about arugula!

  5. Beautiful and delicious! I will be sending something for PPN as well ;)

    Have a wonderful day, Margot

  6. Val this is good.I'm currently working on a recipe for Blogger Aid and will send it in asap!

  7. Thanks everyone. You just have to try this it was just so darn good:D

  8. Thanks everyone. You just have to try this it was just so darn good:D

  9. This dish has spring written all over it Val! Looks so good!

  10. That looks like the perfect meal for the Spring that is approching. Hope you have some beautiful weather.

  11. There are photos that really have that thousand word effect. This is one of those - I can identify exactly what it is but your photo here just begs to have a fork in it.

    Happy Birthday Presto Pasta Nights! and many more.

  12. Ohh that sounds like a great idea. Ian loves "rocket" but I dont have the heart to tell him it's just arugula. I think he just loves the way Jamie Oliver says it.
    Rock(et) on fellow Canadian!

  13. Everything about this dish is appealing. It looks so good!

  14. Sounds delicious, I never made arugula pesto before. My family love the classic pesto, but I am willing to try to make it with arugula.

  15. If you asked me what my favorite food was, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between chocolate and arugula. (Strange, I know!) Anyway, that would explain the strong appeal this recipe has for me. It looks super!

  16. I must try this after lent. I'll have to see if I have something ready for Ruth.

  17. Oh Yes BAM!!! This sounds good to me, & I love the creole seasoning too. How do you do it Val? How do you keep up with so much? BOW to you...you are brilliant with post after post of exciting stuff. Big hi to the robin!! YAY, Spring is here!

  18. Such lovely fresh flavours. I will be trying this for sure.

  19. Arugula or rocket as we call it here...either way, I love the peppery taste and this is a great new recipe for me!!!

  20. Val, I love the colour of the pasta from the pesto. That peppery taste of arugula is awesome.

  21. Yum! This looks delicious. Another interesting variation on pesto is this recipe for Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto. Enjoy!

  22. That looks amazing! Nothing says summer like arugula pesto - my favorite! This looks great!

  23. Congratulations on the anniversary!

  24. What a wonderful post! And perfect timing as I sit here in my bulky sweater wishing winter away. Thanks for bringing Springtime to Presto Pasta Nights.

    And thanks for being such a great part of PPN over the last two years.

  25. This looks really good. I'm going to try it for dinner tonight. Emeril's Essence is so tasty...I put it on everything!

  26. Nice entry Val - all Italian colours. I love basil pesto but somehow never got my taste buds around arugula but the change up could be really simple with similar results.

  27. Arugula is one of our favorites and I know we would like this pesto with the arugula and walnuts. For some reason (it's where I live probably) but pine nuts tend not to be fresh so they aren't one of our favorites. I bet I could substitute fresh pecans from our neighboring state Georgia. That is a fabulous photo too.


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