Spinach Angel Hair Pasta with Walnut-Arugula Pesto


Pesto doesn’t have to be made from basil. Pesto is a generic Italian term for making something by pounding. The ancient Romans also ate a dish called moretum; a type of herb cheese spread eaten with bread. It was typically made with herbs, fresh cheese, salt, oil and some vinegar along with different kinds of nuts which were sometimes added. The contents were crushed together with a mortar and pestle. It is only natural that these two dishes, so closely related, would get the names moretum and pesto.

Tonight I made a pesto using walnuts and arugula. Although arugula is not a herb like basil, its color and unique peppery flavor make a great substitute. Here’s what I did:


2 small garlic cloves
3 ounces walnut pieces (about ¾ cup), toasted and cooled
4 ounces arugula, trimmed and roughly chopped
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/3 cup)
1 pound spinach linguine
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra if needed
Freshly ground pepper


Pulse garlic until very finely chopped. Add walnut pieces, arugula, Parmesan and process until a coarse paste forms. Drizzle olive oil into mixture while processing. Additional olive oil can be added if the mixture is too clumpy. It is always better to use less olive oil as it is easy to add but very difficult to remove. Transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the salt and set aside. Even more olive oil can be added if you feel the mixture is too dry. This can be made up to an hour ahead of time. Do not chill; keep at room temperature.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add angel hair and cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, and immediately add to bowl with walnut-arugula mixture. Drizzle with the oil, and season with pepper. Toss thoroughly until coated evenly. Serve immediately.

A versatile, Italian food friendly chicken: Pollo con pesto


Here is a lightly breaded chicken breast that seems to go with most any type of Italian food. It tastes just as great with a marinara as it does with an Alfredo, or even a fresh pesto like I served it here.

Lightly Breaded, Italian Seasoned Chicken Breast


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into ½” thick strips
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian blend seasoning
buttermilk or whole milk
oil for cooking


Place chicken strips in glass bowl and cover with just enough buttermilk or whole milk to completely submerge. Let stand for approximately one hour. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in shallow bowl.

Pour cooking oil in large skillet to cover bottom with approximately ¼ inch of oil and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Dredge chicken breast in seasoned flour and fry for approximately four minutes and then turn and fry for three to four minutes on the other side. Set aside on paper towel lined plate.

Serve on top of your favorite pasta. Tonight I made fresh pesto. Here’s my pesto recipe.



4 cups basil leaves packed fairly tight
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup grated Parmesan
4 cloves garlic
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil (Start with ¼ cup)


First, toast your pine nuts by placing them in a skillet on the stove top and heating them on medium heat. Shake the pan often to prevent them from burning. It should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes to toast the pine nuts.

Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Pulse several times to begin blending ingredients. Then constantly blend ingredients while drizzling olive oil into food processor. Use only enough oil to turn ingredients into smooth, thick sauce. The pesto should be able to hold a slight form. Add the pesto to your favorite pasta and blend well and serve immediately.

A Different Flavor of Pesto — Linguine with Walnut Pesto


Most people think of a green sauce made primarily of basil when they hear the term pesto. Pesto is a generic Italian term for anything that is made by pounding and hence pesto can be made from a wide variety of base ingredients. Another favorite of mine that I may have to blog about at a later date is red pesto made with a base of sun-dried tomatoes. Here is a very simple, very tasty pesto made with a base of walnuts.


½ cup walnut pieces
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp walnut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil if walnut oil is not available)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup whole cow’s milk ricotta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb dried linguine


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

While the water is heating, put the walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. With the motor running, dribble in the olive oil and walnut oil and process just until combined. Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the parsley, Parmigiano, and ricotta. Add a few grinds of pepper and stir the mixture until it is well combined and creamy.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and spoon in about three-fourths of the pesto. Add a little of the cooking water and toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.

Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed shallow individual bowls, top with a dollop of remaining pesto and sprinkle a little Parmigiano and black pepper over each serving. Serve immediately.

Pesto di Noce with Flat Iron Steak & Green Beans Amandine.


Tonight’s dinner was Pesto di Noce (Pesto with Walnuts) served over a grilled Flat Iron Steak along with green beans Amandine.

Pesto is typically made with Pine nuts. However for this pesto I toasted some English walnuts and added a few sun dried tomatoes. The walnuts give the pesto just a slightly different flavor and the sun dried tomatoes add just a hint of sweetness.

This recipe originally called for a flank steak, however in my area flank steaks are very hard to find. I use the new kid on the block, the flat iron steak, as a worthy substitute whenever a recipe calls for flank steak. If you would like to read more about the flat iron steak simply click here. Flat Iron Steak

I also had some left over crostini from the weekend. I am planning a whole article on the versatility of crostini in the near future so that will have to wait until then. For now, here are the recipes for the steak, pesto and green beans.

Flat Iron Steak

In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. In a glass bowl, baking dish or my preference a zip lock type baggie, pour the mixture over a flank steak. Let steak marinate for 30 minutes, turning once. I like to use a zip lock type bag because I feel it holds the marinate next to the meat much better and all you simply need to do is flip the bag every once in a while.

On a hot grill, cook steak over high heat, 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. When steak has reached desired doneness, remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Slice the steak against the grain in ½-inch-thick slices. Plate and top with pesto.

Pesto di Noce


1 ½ cups packed basil
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (you may use all Parmesan if you wish)
2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Process basil, oil, walnuts, Pecorino, Parmesan, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans Amandine

1 lb. Fresh or frozen whole green beans
¼ Sliced almonds
¼ C Real Butter
½ t Kosher Salt
1/8 t Fresh ground pepper

Steam beans until tender-crisp. About 10 to 15 minutes. Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add salt, pepper and almonds. Right before serving, heat butter, almonds, salt and pepper over medium heat. Stir until almonds just begin to brown. Add beans and fry while continuously stirring for three to four minutes. Serve immediately.

What can I say… you can never get enough pesto. As Susan said while eating tonight, “On the seventh day God created Pesto.”