Monday, June 18, 2007
Spaetzle with Arugula Pesto
The sun is out again here in Boston, and pesto sounded like a great idea... but basic basil pesto seemed a little too pedestrian for today. What better green to use than my favorite, arugula?
I was working off the cuff on this one, but I think it turned out pretty well. I also tried to cut down on the oil, so it's a little more pasty than a typical pesto.
Arugula, about 4 oz. or half a bag
Olive oil, about 1/3 cup
2 garlic cloves
Zest of half a lemon
Shaved Pecorino Romano, to taste
Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended. Add more of whichever ingredient seems lacking, especially oil if it's too dry or not moving around the blade. This made about 3/4 cup. Obviously, you can adjust the amounts to produce more.
I was very happy with this combination. Arugula, olive oil and Pecorino are naturals together. The lemon added a very sharp, fresh taste that intrigued me; it gave the whole recipe a different twist. (Ouch. No pun intended.)
Now, I needed something to put the pesto on. I really wanted fresh pasta, but I don't know where to buy it near me, and I didn't have the patience to make any tonight. Instead, I decided to try my hand at the spaetzle recipe I received a few weeks ago from Paul Turano.
1/4 cup water
3 T melted butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup flour
Mix all ingredients except flour together. Add flour once everything else is incorporated. Over a pot of heavily salted, boiling water, push spaetzle dough through the holes of a colander. Work in batches. As soon as the spaetzle float, transfer to cold water to halt the cooking.
I really wanted to take pictures of the spaetzle-making process, but I had to work so quickly, and the potential for bodily injury was growing by the second, so I had to pass. Instead, you get this amazing photo of my naked spaetzle.
I could never imagine the need for a spaetzle maker before. Now I understand. The holes in my colander were just too small, making it almost impossible to get the dough through. The pieces that did make their way through were tiny... almost a joke. And the way they were swimming around in the water was a little obscene... The steam was pouring up through the colander holes that weren't plugged up by dough, and I had to resort to awkwardly holding kitchen towels over my arm in order to keep all my skin intact.
But I soldiered on. After all the spaetzle was cooking, I heated some oil in a pan and sauteed some chopped peapods. Then I added the spaetzle and allowed the dumplings to brown slightly, tossing occasionally.
After cooking, I added a few chopped tomato pieces and a big spoonful of the arugula pesto (about 1/4 of what I had made). I had intended to keep some leftovers for lunch tomorrow, but the small amount of spaetzle didn't stretch as far as I thought it would.
Overall, this wasn't a total disaster. I mean, yes, the spaetzle was more difficult than I expected. So what if I almost scalded my hand off making it? And so what if said spaetzle looked like giant sperm? At least the pesto was great, and at least it still tasted good!