Spring is so close…thank goodness! I’m dying to leave the house without the risk of wiping out on my slanted, icy driveway, or freezing my toes, or having to dress my kids in multiple layers that take 30 minutes to get on.

To that end, I wanted to develop a recipe that involved green. Green is spring, green is healthy (most of the time, unless It’s a Shamrock Shake), and green is delicious. My dad was coming over for dinner last night and he was bringing scallops, so I did this pesto on a corkscrew pasta to eat with the seafood.

I actually partly got this recipe while counseling a client the other day – we were talking about pesto and I got excited and inadvertently shouted “avocado!” (my counseling sessions are as fun as you’d imagine). My client and I both agreed that it was something that needed to be attempted. We were right, because avocado is amazing in pesto. Who knew?

I used arugula in this recipe, mostly because I love it and its peppery flavor really goes well with parmesan. The only arugula I could find was very sad looking – apparently, being on a truck all the way up to Toronto from Mexico doesn’t agree with delicate greens – but it was a good way to use less-than-stellar produce. Score one for me, zero for the trash!

I chose walnuts because I like them better than pine nuts. Really, there’s no other explanation for the choice. Between the walnuts, avocado, and olive oil, this pesto is jammed with heart-healthy fats.

The avocado mellows the pesto’s sharp taste into a rich, mild flavor that’s really decadent. The Meyer lemon’s tang is only very slight in the recipe, but adds a citric undertone that’s lovely.

I sautéed my dad’s huge scallops in butter, garlic, and olive oil and served them atop the pesto-tossed pasta. It was a meal to remember.

pesto pasta platter bright copy

Makes ¾ cup.

10 oz (two clamshells) of arugula

½ cup walnuts

½ cup olive oil

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 avocado, halved and pitted

Juice of ½ Meyer lemon**

Boil water in a medium pot. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl with very cold water and set near the stove.

When the water is boiling, plunge the arugula – either altogether or if your pot isn’t big enough, in 2 stages – into the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove promptly and plunge into the cold water bath.

Dry the arugula well, squeezing out all the water. Try not to faint at the sight of the teensy amount of arugula that you end up with after this step. It’s all good.

Place the arugula and the remainder of the ingredients except for the avocado into a blender, and blend well. You want a grainy, not gummy texture, so make sure you watch carefully and pulse the ingredients when you need to. When the desired texture is reached, add the avocado and blend until it’s incorporated into the pesto.

pesto dish copy

This pesto keeps well in the fridge and doesn’t turn brown despite containing avocado. It melts well into hot pasta – just add a few tablespoons or however much you’d like, and toss.

pesto pasta bowl with fork copy

The pesto would be awesome on a sandwich too.

** if you don’t have Meyer lemon, no problem! Just use ¼ of a regular lemon or more to taste.