I taught the Spring Veggie 101 class last night and we made an arugula pesto that was outstanding. The menu is studded with lots of other seasonal darlings: fava beans, asparagus, green garlic and baby greens. And now that kidding season is over, fresh cheeses are abundant. I had the unexpected fortune of being able to use cheeses that were made in our homemade cheese making class just days before. Thanks Carolyn!
We made fresh pasta, a composed crostini and a grilled vegetable salad with walnut vinaigrette. There was a ton of great techniques going on, as well as good flavor. But what I can’t stop thinking about is the arugula pesto that went with the ravioli. The arugula greens and the pine nuts were in perfect harmony. The salt and red wine that you add to the pesto is what makes this blend of herbs become a well-balanced sauce. My students were in love with the pesto as well.
More importantly, the students learned the greatest lesson of all… recipes are a guideline that are based in a technique. Your basic pesto is going to be a blended mixture of aromatics and fresh herbs, usually basil. To highlight other ingredients that would make great substitutions while you apply the same technique is invaluable. The conversation was elevated to new heights after this lesson was absorbed and the class was unstoppable with their own innovations. As a chef, I love to feed people food that exceeds their expectations. As a teacher, I feel most accomplished when I have taught someone how to cook without a recipe.