Green Garlic and Arugula Pesto

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When you work all day outside, pulling and hoeing weeds, and you come home with a bunch of green garlic, freshly picked, still caked in soil and you are so hungry and have been wracking your brain all day to think of what to make for dinner, well here is what you do.

You wash off the green garlic, take one of the stems, cut off the roots and discard. Chop the rest of the green garlic, all the way up the green part, into one inch pieces.*  Drop them into the bowl of the food processor. Put a pot of water on to boil and take a package of whole wheat pasta out of the cupboard.

Dinner will be ready soon, just a few more things you have to do. Take some sunflower seeds (about 1/4 cup) and toast them until they are golden brown. Drop these into the food processor with the chopped green garlic. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, some grated parmesan and enough fresh arugula to nearly fill the food processor. Top with a squeeze of lemon and the let the machine whir. As it pulverizes the leaves, shoots and seeds, pour in enough olive oil to create a soft paste — a pesto.

When the water is boiling, add enough pasta for you and anyone else who will be sharing your meal. When the pasta is cooked, drain out most of the water, but leave enough to turn the pesto into a sauce that will cling to the strands of pasta. Mix as much of the pesto as you wish with the pasta and the bit of cooking water.

Before you dig into this simple pasta with green green garlic and arugula pesto, remember this is a different pesto than you might be used to. It is a bit spicy, a bit bitter, and very green. Don’t expect it to taste like the basil pesto that will be to die for during the height of summer. This one lively and unexpected like spring and the first taste of something grown in the soil nearby.

*green garlic is young garlic, pulled before it makes a bulb in the ground, or the new shoots that have grown up from a bulb of garlic that stayed for another year in the ground. It looks a bit like a large scallion or a leek, but it tastes like garlic, just a little less strong. I suspect lots of farms in the northern part of the USA have it this time of year, but if you can’t find it you can use regular garlic.

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