Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pasta with Arugula, Spinach and Lemon Pesto

Pasta makes regular appearances in my kitchen. The Italian in me thinks pasta may possibly be the most perfect food in the world. We only buy whole grain pasta now because we want the full nutritional benefit of eating the whole grains. I love the way whole grain pastas can stand up to big full flavor sauces and this pesto if no exception. There are a plethora of health reasons to make this very tasty arugula, spinach and walnut (or pine nut) pesto.

Arugula like its cruciferous relatives contains a group of anticancer compounds known as glucosinolates. These compounds exert antioxidant activity, and are potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. Arugula is also an excellent source of vitamin A and C and folic acid.

Spinach is loaded with calcium, folic acid, vitamin K, iron, vitamin C, and lutein. It is thought to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and protect you against macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness).

Walnuts are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. In 2003 the FDA recognized that walnuts help to prevent heart disease. In April 2009 a study was publicized that 2 ounces of walnuts correlated to a reduction in the risk of breast cancer.

If you choose pine nuts in place of walnuts, they are full of vitamins A, C and D. Pine nuts are full of monounsaturated fat that is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. The vitamin D in pine nuts is known to help with the absorption of calcium and to boost the immune system.

This pasta dish is not only good tasting, but it is also good for you.

Pasta with Arugula, Spinach Pesto with Lemon
Serves 4 - 6


13.5 ounce box of whole wheat pasta
10 ounce bunch of arugula, well washed
7 ounce bunch of spinach, well washed
zest and juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ cup of walnuts or pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
6 large cherry tomatoes, cut into eighths
small handful of parsley, minced for garnish - optional


Cook the pasta is 6 quarts of boiling water seasoned with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

While the pasta is cooking put the arugula, spinach, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, salt and nuts into a food processor. Process until it is a smooth paste. If your lemons were extremely juicy and your sauce is too runny add a couple of tablespoons of cooked white beans or more nuts and process until thoroughly combined.

Toss the pasta, sauce, sliced tomatoes and nut garnish together in a serving bowl. Check the salt and pepper level. If you wish you can drizzle each serving with a little extra virgin olive oil.


This is nice fresh sauce. It is a little like a salad sauce, with a vinaigrette. I like the lemony flavor of this pasta sauce. This is a great pasta for summer. It is good hot, warm or cold. This makes a nice cold pasta salad for a picnic.

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