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Hey Basil, you don’t own pesto! This arugula hazelnut pesto variation is out of this world, and may be your go-to summer sensation.
I’m not starting an argument here, but really, Basil, take a break. You are fantastic in my Classic Pesto, you’re tasty with tomatoes, and you do pizza a great service – but I know I can mix things up with arugula hazelnut pesto and be just as happy!
You know I like playing around with different flavors and combinations. I wanted to make a pesto with a little kick. Arugula has that green, peppery taste I love and hazelnuts are sweet and strong. Strong enough to stand up to arugula and shine through.
I used skinned hazelnuts to avoid too much of the bitter skin. Blend them up with the arugula, cheese and olive oil just as you would in classic pesto. I swapped Parmesan for Pecorino and added some lemon juice to brighten all of the flavors.
The biggest change, addition, variation, whatever you want to call it, that I made was adding dried figs. Yes! Sweet black mission figs, roughly chopped, get blended into the pesto. I actually replaced the garlic with the sweet fruit to balance the strong flavors of the greens and nuts. Hazelnuts and figs are a match made in heaven to begin with, but mixed into an herby sauce, they are quite heavenly.
Use this fun sauce as you would regular pesto, on pasta, or serve it as a dip for veggies. It’s also great with pork. The sweet fig flavor comes through just enough and it works so well as a spread to melt on grilled pork chops or tenderloin.
Storing Tip: I love to make things ahead and have them at the ready. To store arugula hazelnut pesto, or any of your herb sauces up to 4 days in the fridge, press plastic wrap onto the surface, smoothing out the air bubbles. The wrap will keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.
Perfect with pork chops and roast beef or as a vegetable dip.
- 4 cups packed arugula leaves
- 6 to 7 dried black mission figs, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) skinned hazelnuts, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil into the feed tube. Use immediately or freeze for up to a month.
Recipe by Tara Bench
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal Aug 2010
Photography Antonis Achilleos
Food Styling Cyd Raftus McDowell
Prop Styling Paige Hicks
Juicy grilled chicken and peppery arugula salad make for a tasty open-faced sandwich. As sandwiches go, I like mine with cheese, melted cheese. It just makes them better!
This sammy is a glorious combination of chicken, Gouda (there’s the cheese!) and a green salad. As much as I like cheese on a sandwich, I also like open-faced sanwiches. It feels very dinnery to eat (because you have the option of using a knife and fork), and you can get a heck-of-a-lot more piled on that one slice of bread.
You can buy grilled chicken in the prepared food section of your deli counter if you want a super fast dinner.
I actually used a panini maker, or countertop grill for the chicken. A grill pan like this one here, is also a great alternative to an outdoor grill during these winter months. I really like this grill pan because it doesn’t have a tall edge. I can use it for chicken, burgers and even kabobs because it doesn’t have the rim of a typical skillet. It’s cast iron, so follow directions for treating and cleaning it!
Also, if your bakery has a raisin walnut loaf–whooo-eeee that makes this sandwich good! I get in trouble when I buy this bread. I could eat the entire thing. Thus I create breakfast, lunch and dinner options using it! I love the crunch of nuts and savory-sweet burst from the raisins. A cranberry pecan loaf works too. Any type of fruit and nut combo your bakery might have will work.
Save prep time and buy grilled chicken at the supermarket. Just warm it in the oven before you make the sandwiches.
- 4 small (4 to 5 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
- 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ cup apricot preserves
- 4 slices crusty whole-grain bread or raisin-nut bread
- 6 oz gouda, sliced
- 4 cups (3 oz) arugula
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- Season chicken with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil; grill on grill pan or grill press until completely cooked, 5 to 6 min.
- Heat oven to 375°F. For the dressing stir together mustard, vinegar and preserves; season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside. Toast bread in toaster or oven. On a baking sheet, arrange cheese on toast and place one piece of chicken on top. Cook in oven until cheese begins to melt, about 4 min.
- Combine arugula and onion and toss with some of the dressing. Place sandwiches on plates, top with salad and drizzle generously with remaining dressing.
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Recipe Tara Bench and Vanessa Seder
Photography Rita Maas
Prop Styling Tiziana Agnello
Food Styling Anne Disrude