I'm happy to report that I finally have something in common with Giada from The Food Network. Sadly, it's not the perfect chompers or the even more perfect, umm, cleavage. It's our love of pesto. I have seen her cook with it quite a bit – making her own every time, of course. This time, however, she really took it in a different direction.
She claims that she rarely cooks with jalepenos. That makes sense considering the cuisine she specializes in. Me, however – I like adding a little heat in my recipes. While I tend to find peppers like Serrano a little more complex, the jalepeno works just fine, too. It really gives this arugula pesto a nice, slow heat and a slight burn at the end. I tweaked my recipe a bit and added a smidge of lemon juice and a handful of fresh arugula at the end – I just love fresh, bitter greens in pasta. Keep the seeds in the jalepeno for even more fire.
Spicy Arugula Pesto – recipe originally found here
For the pesto: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the cooked pasta and pesto in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Asiago cheese shavings and serve.
*Cook's Note: For a milder pesto, remove the seeds from the jalapeno pepper.