Arugula-green garlic pesto

S’been awhile, no? Last weekend was the pig roast. I didn’t take pictures this year, had my hands full with Zephyr and other things, but I turned out a rather gorgeous som tam-inspired chayote slaw that, served with spicy shredded pork belly, lime and cilantro (laap on the fly), was perfect Lao street food without the street. It’s worth a repeat, and so I shall, soon.

Now that Zephyr is a spry young man of 7 months, he is prone to ambling off the sanctuary of his outdoor blanket and into the wilds of the surrounding grass and weeds. I don’t mind his exploration, but I am wary of him cramming handfuls of freshly-cut bluegrass and clover into his gob. Sure, they’re edible enough, but I don’t want him getting some nasty parasite, so I handed him a nice, fat leaf of arugula for him to gnaw on. I half expected some funny faces, but sure as shit, he likes it!

Just as Zephyr is suddenly requiring a watchful eye, we suddenly have a garden full of bolted arugula. We had such a cold, wet spring that our first warm weather last week sent my lettuces and other tender greens all aflower. Lettuces are in the dandelion family and go bitter when they flower, but my peppery little Brassicaceous beauty, Eruca sativa, stays just as bright and nutty as the day she sprouted.

Pluck yourself a little posy of the flowers to brighten up your kitchen, and toss the rest of them – stems, shoots, leaves, buds, blooms and all – into your favorite food processing device, be it the mortar and pestle or the Magimix. Add a handful of the other flower shoots that are springing up all over the garden these days: garlic. Unless you plan on saving seed, letting your garlic bloom is a huge waste of the plant’s resources. Chop those shoots off and let the plant send all its energy into the bulb, where you want it. Toss the shoots (unceremoniously, or with aplomb – your call) into their pestofication device and douse the lot with olive oil, a few good pinches of salt and some toasted pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts, if you’re feeling rich).

Smear this verdure velvet onto some pizza dough and top with some grated pecorino, or add a blob to some angel hair and sweet tomatoes for a quick and easy Margherita. I bet it’d be just wonderful on a skewer of spot prawns. And this stuff? Freezes like a dream. As if you’d have any leftover.