Monday, August 1, 2011

Orecchiette with Mizuna Pesto

Do you ever notice that your cooking habits seem to run in streaks?  I know that ours do.  For the past couple of weeks, we seem to have gotten hooked on pasta dishes.  It probably has something to do with all the fresh greens we were finding at the market, since we've been on a bit of a pesto kick.

Purists we are not, since we seem prone to making pesto out of just about any available greens we have on hand.  We're constantly tossing in variables -- jalapeno peppers, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes -- just to keep things interesting.  

This week, the object of our pesto-love was a Japanese green called mizuna.  Sometimes called Japanese mustard, mizuna has a mild, yet tangy flavor, and an almost other-worldly bright green color when chopped.  I normally like to put it in salads or use it as a sandwich topping. But, when Bryan from the Jen Ehr Family Farm booth at the market mentioned that he'd been making his mizuna into pesto, we decided to try our hand at it too.

Into the food processor went our bunch of mizuna (ends trimmed), 5 stalks of green garlic, and a liberal dose of olive oil.  We set the pasta on to boil while we were making the pesto, then tossed the pasta with the pesto and a bit of reserved pasta cooking water.
The best part of all?  Dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes.

I chose a bag of those lovely, cup-shaped, whole wheat orecchiette pasta for this dish, envisioning that the shape of the pasta would help to scoop up all of that lovely pesto sauce -- and I was right about that. We also used whole toasted pine nuts (instead of grinding them into the pesto) to give the pasta some additional texture.
The pesto was absolutely delicious, if a bit more mild than I expected. And, as you can see, it was a beautifully intense green color (pretty is always a bonus with food). We had a bit of extra sauce leftover, and we used that as the base for a chicken pizza a few days later.

So, next time you get tired of eating mizuna in your salad, think about  making it into a quick summer pesto.

Classic Pesto (with variations)

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  1. I love the idea of mizuna pesto and also using whole pine nuts instead of blitzing them in the food processor along with the pesto. BUT, I can't believe how good this pesto sounds as a base for chicken pizza! OMG, what a great idea! You two are super creative. I love it hanging out at BURP. =)

  2. I looove different pestos. Although I seem to stay true to the herbs, but vary it with different nuts. I've been making a ton of pasta lately, too. It's ease lends itself to the crazy business of moving.

  3. That is green! We tend to run towards stir-fries when we get a lot of veggies I really need to think more pesto

  4. Boy, I wish I'd had this recipe back in the year 2000 or so, when the first CSA I ever belonged to had a bumper crop of mizuna and not much else! What a great idea!

  5. So pretty! The orecchiette looks perfect for it. I think the key to good pesto is the right amount of garlic - the greens are the fun part you can switch up depending on what you have.


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