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by Liren Baker

Liren Baker is the voice behind the blog Kitchen Confidante, where she shares taste and inspiration in the kitchen. Inspired by the beauty of food, what it represents, what it invokes, and what we can create out of it, she shares recipes and images that remind her of her heritage, her childhood in New York, and the vibrant culinary culture she has learned to embrace in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she currently lives.

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  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • One look outside my window, and my eyes are greeted by a sea of rolling green. The hills are vibrant with fresh, lush grass, and in the coming weeks, the wildflowers will begin to carpet them in shades of lilac and yellow.

    Spring is particularly lovely in the Bay Area, and in my twelve years here, I have yet to tire of it.

    I wish the rich spring green could stay all year round, but come summer, the dry heat (which I do appreciate) will transform the hills to gold, and what was once verdant will look parched and dry. So for now, I try to soak it all in, for as long as it lasts.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Seeing all the green inspires me to incorporate freshness and simplicity into my meals. As we head into spring, I have been enjoying tender arugula, using it in a zesty pesto. While there's nothing better than an uncomplicated pasta dressed with this simple sauce, arugula pesto is also wonderful on a bruschetta for an entertainment worthy appetizer. But, oh, pesto on pasta is still my favorite.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Toss in some slices of salty prosciutto and morsels of your favorite cheese, and this versatile pasta can be a light dinner, a side dish, or even picnic fair. I would love to pack this in a basket and sit amongst the green, fork in hand. Add a glass of wine, some fresh fruit, and that would be heaven.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • PASTA WITH ARUGULA PESTO AND PROSCIUTTO 

    Serves 4

    Ingredients:

    3 handfuls arugula
    1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
    1 garlic clove
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    12 oz dried pasta (use your favorite, penne works well)
    6 oz your favorite cheese (try cubes of Parmegianno-Regiano, goat cheese, or mozzarella)
    8 slices prosciutto, torn in slivers
    course salt, to taste
    freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Method:

    Make the pesto by placing the arugula, pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse so that it still chunky. With the motor running, add the olive oil. Try to make sure the pesto still has some body and is not thin.

    Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, according to directions. Drain, then toss in the arugula pesto, cheese, and prosciutto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Arugula Pesto adapted from from Seasons by Donna Hay

    Enjoy!

    - Liren
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