Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

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Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life! Spring arrives in a few days, but I am ahead of the curve with this green pasta dish that is hearty but light. It’s a not-very-spicy recipe but you can spice it up by adding more chili flakes and/or raw garlic. If you are afraid of raw garlic, just keep this for a weekend (non-date-night) recipe!

This recipe was inspired by the wonderful spring weather as well as out of necessity. I needed to use up my bag of wild arugula and a bag of cut mushrooms I got at Trader Joe’s earlier this week.  I was also skimming the food section on Huffington Post today and saw an article with beautiful pics of spring pastas. Therefore, a variety of inspiration, boiled down into a bowl of pasta.

Feel free to substitute whatever greens you have on hand. Pesto is very forgiving when you use different seeds/nuts and greens.  My usual go-to pesto recipe is part arugula and basil with pine nuts or sunflower seeds. The arugula keeps the basil nice and green and gives it a peppery taste. Parsley and spinach are also delicious as stand-ins for part of the greens.  Normally pesto contains cheese, but this is a vegan (non-dairy) version. If you would like to add cheese, add about 1/2 cup grated cheese (usually parmesan or asiago) to the blender when making the pesto. Or simply grate it on top of the finished pasta before serving.

Spring Arugula Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Serves 4 – 6

  • 4 cups boiled pasta of your choice
  • 4 cups arugula or other greens, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flaked red chili
  • 2 – 4 tbsp olive oil or margarine/butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper to taste

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups arugula (or other greens), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic (or to taste), peeled
  • 1/4 cup (or more) good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, shelled
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  1. While cooking the pasta, make your pesto: place the garlic, 1/2 of the greens and 1/2 of the walnuts in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend to a smooth paste by running the machine while adding oil a little at a time.
  3. Add the remaining walnuts, salt and greens (and cheese if using) and pulse until it becomes a chunky mixture. You may need to add additional oil. Taste for salt and set aside.
  4. Heat a pan over medium heat and add 2  tbsp olive oil.
  5. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms and flaked chili and let cook wtihout stirring for at least one minute.
  6. Stirring occasionally, let the mushrooms cook down. They will release their water and start to turn brown.
  7. Now add the arugula or greens on top of the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  8. Allow to cook until the greens are wilted and any moisture evaporates. Turn off the heat.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with 1/4 cup of pesto. Mix gently to combine. Add more pesto to taste.

Serve while warm with a side salad and/or garlic bread. You can freeze left-over pesto sauce or use as a spread on sandwiches or a topping on baked potatoes… Happy Spring!

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