I can never decide if I like pesto. Because for every delicious sandwich spread or tomato dish that has me longing for the brightness and freshness of a good pesto, there have been just as many heavy pastas or boring chicken breasts sopping in heavy green oil. But I guess not all pestos are made to be alike.
Bottom line, the word pesto always meant the same to me as I started to cook. Olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and parmesan blended together creating that un-mistakable green topping. But I’ve followed suit over the years, and have become liberal in what I consider pesto. Herbs, greens, or even chilis blended with oil can make for far more exciting versions of the classic but there is one thing I feel is crucial. Some acidity!
At the end of the day, pesto is in large percentage oil, and oil can coat the pallet rendering your dining experience pretty boring and heavy. But acidity cuts right through that heaviness and for this arugula pesto, grapefruit juice made for a fantastic addition. With about a cup of packed arugula, ¼ cup of toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, olive oil, and a few splashes of grapefruit juice, my pesto turned out exactly how I like it; bright, flavorful and perfect for this pan roasted cod with beet greens. Topped with my new favorite, pickled red onions (check out the recipe I posted a few weeks back), this dish pushed me towards a decision: I guess I do like pesto after all!