Friday, September 26, 2014

Avocado & Arugula Pesto Spaghetti

I am a humongous fan of pasta because pasta has turned me humongous. Okay, so I'm not literally humongous, at least not by my own standards, but I can certainly blame pasta for the "bonus" weight I carry. I could eat pasta completely plain with just a knob of butter, that's how much I love it. But more often than not, I mix the pasta in with something else: red sauce, green sauce, meat sauce, cheese sauce, grilled vegetables, sausage, fresh vegetables. The list can go on for pages.

Well, I've got another preparation to add to that neverending list. It's kind of an atypical recipe, something you might not have considered but I think that's part of the charm. It's got mashed up avocados in it, which are so good for your hair and nails and skin since it's full of vitamins (B, C, E, and K) and has more potassium than bananas. And it has lots of peppery arugula, which is hydrating (also makes it good for your hair and nails and skin) and rich in iron and copper and fiber and vitamins A, C, and K and folic acid. It's just a health bomb, despite the fact that it's also a big bowl of pasta. It's a beauty-enhancing dish.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. spaghetti (one box; or you can use whatever pasta you like)
2 cups baby arugula, loosely packed
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 to 4 cloves garlic (depends on how much garlic flavor you like)
¼ to ⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon lime juice (½ of a juicy lime)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (½ of a juicy lemon)
1 burrata ball
Start by putting a big pot on to boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta until it's al dente. Overcooked pasta is sacrilege! Set a timer, if you have to. Start checking the doneness after 7 minutes and none of that "if it sticks to the wall" crap. Taste it. If it's cooked through with just a touch of resistance, then it's ready. If it's crunchy, give it another minute.
While the pasta is going, get working on the pesto. Chuck a bunch of arugula, garlic, parmesan cheese (freshly grated, of course), olive oil, and salt into a food processor and pulse until the arugula is chopped to bits and the pesto has the consistency of a thick paste; add more oil if necessary. The raw garlic will get slightly toned down later, as the pesto will be tossed with hot pasta. If you are not keen on the taste of raw garlic, use fewer cloves or use roasted garlic or saute minced garlic in some olive oil before scooping it into the food processor. Or you know, you could omit them altogether, you vampire.
Grab a lovely and ripe avocado, cut it in half, pop out the pit, and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Chuck the avocado meat into the food processor.
Cut a lime and a lemon in two and squeeze in the juice of just half of each fruit. The lime and lemon will add a nice acidity and burst of freshness. Plus, they'll help prevent the avocado from going brown. Just make sure to catch any seeds before they fall in the food processor. Give it a good whizz until it's creamy.
Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and then drain the al dente pasta. Return the noodles to the hot pot and then dump in the pesto. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and toss. Add more pasta water, if necessary, to loosen up the noodles if they're too "sticky" and not saucy enough. I recommend adding a little more water than you think you need, since the noodles will soak up some of the moisture.

The residual heat from the pot and pasta will warm up the pesto and also cook the raw garlic a little bit. It will smell lovely, I swear.
Pile the noodles into a serving dish and then top with torn pieces of burrata. I also plopped on a few baby grape tomatoes for some color.
Bring this delicious mess of green noodles to the dining table and serve to hungry monsters. The pesto is a yummy combination of creamy and spicy and salty and gently tart. And if you did it right, the spaghetti will be chewy with an al dente bite.

And even though most pastas are known for being a heavy, unhealthy, carb-heavy contribution to lovely dishes, this one's slightly not-so-bad. Like I said, avocados and arugula are both vitamin and nutrient-packed so you can feel good about that. You might be a little plumper but your hair, skin, and nails will be radiant. Jokes! Just eat a normal-sized portion and you don't ever have to feel guilty.

By the way, this stuff is super delicious the next day too. Pack any leftovers for lunch, though, don't forget to throw in a mint or two, unless you don't mind knocking over your coworkers with your garlic breath. If your coworkers are hungry vampires, it might be all right.
Here's the recipe page:

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