What a confusing spring season it’s been! One day 80s, the next 40s and rain….hard to figure out what to wear (come on, I’m sure I’m not alone on this one!), and even harder to figure out what to eat!! There are many health benefits to eating “in season” but what to do when the weather doesn’t match the season?
It would be nice to take advantage of all those fresh greens in the markets, but salad on a cool day isn’t always what I’m in the mood for. I came home recently with fresh arugula and fresh spinach from a local farmers market, because it looked too good to pass up. I hadn’t seen fresh local greens in months, and let’s just say I may have over purchased. I make green smoothies regularly and eat raw salads every day, but still……I was going to have to get creative to use all of these greens while they were still fresh.
Although most people think of the traditional basil, pecorino, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil when they think of pesto, making a paste from herbs, nuts, cheese and oil has been around since ancient times and its origins can be traced to other cultures besides Italian. I’m no stranger to making pesto, but I do like to change it up a bit—read: make it more healthy—and who doesn’t like a dip/spread/sauce that’s loaded with nutrients? During the summer when I’m able to grow fresh basil I often make large batches of kale and cashew pesto and freeze some to have on hand during the winter months…..but we’re talking early spring here and the only basil I have is the small plant growing on my kitchen windowsill.
So, here I was with an abundance of arugula and spinach and I thought, why not pesto? I love the peppery taste of wild arugula and thought it would really make for an awesome flavor boost to this pesto. Yeah….I would still be able to reap the nutritional benefits and yet have some flexibility with what I did with that lovely paste.
Arugula is loaded with folic acid, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, phyto-chemicals, carotenoids, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium and antioxidants. For those looking to lose weight, arugula is an awesome choice because it is low in calories and therefore nutrient dense. Although arugula shares many of the same health benefits you would find in green leafy veggies, arugula belongs to the Brassica family (related to radishes, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower), giving it an additional boost. Here’s a list of some of the benefits of consuming arugula: boosts immune system, aids in weight management, helps improve eye sight, strengthens bones and teeth, gives relief from symptoms of osteoporosis, promotes energy production and fat synthesis, reduces the risk of heart disease and premature aging. Need I say more??
I am so pleased with the way this pesto recipe came out. It tastes light and fresh—the way spring feels—-and yet its sturdy enough to hold up when heated as a sauce and makes an awesome spread on toast or crackers. Multi-purpose for sure and a great way to get in those healthy spring greens!
I quickly put this pesto to good use, heating up some spiralized zucchini noodles, mixing in the pesto and topping it off with some extra pine nuts, and crushed red pepper. WOW! What a delicious way to get in those veggies.