Spinach Basil Pesto

Spinach Basil Pesto

I am ready for Spring to well, uh, spring! The official first day of Spring is next week, March 20th, and I am here to help you ring in the new season with something fresh, flavorful and actually quite healthy. Spinach Basil Pesto. Also, it’s the only green thing currently in my post queue and I thought you might enjoy something green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Monday. So there you have it. This recipe pulls double duty next week: a green food for St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Monday and a garden-fresh food for Spring on Thursday. You’re so very welcome.

Pesto is one of those things that can be whipped up in seconds if you have a food processor (you really should invest in a food processorif you plan to cook often), and it instantly brightens and flavors just about any dish. Scramble some into your morning eggs, spread it on a turkey sandwich for lunch, mix it into pasta for dinner. You can serve it as a spread for plain crostini, as a dip for fresh cut vegetables, or as a sauce for chicken, fish, pasta, and just about anything else that you fancy. The flavor comes mostly from the fresh basil and raw garlic, but it’s also helped along by some freshly squeezed lemon juice and toasted nuts. Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, which I do love in pesto, or mixed with angel hair pasta and goat cheese, but they can be difficult to find and are expensive, so I started using toasted almonds. I buy raw almonds, then chop and toast them myself. This makes them taste more fresh and bring the cost down quite a bit.

Spinach Basil Pesto-7

Another thing I do with my pesto is use equal parts basil and spinach. Basil for that classic pesto flavor, and spinach to add some serious nutrition. As of the last six months or so, I always have a big box of spinach or kale in my fridge for my morning green smoothies. They don’t add any flavor of their own, so it’s like eating something really healthy that takes on whatever other flavor you’re craving. If you haven’t tried green smoothies yet, you should. Just yesterday, as I was making my breakfast smoothie, I was craving a mint chocolate shake due to the looming green holiday. I used my usual fresh spinach, yogurt, and banana, but then I added some chopped chocolate and mint extract. I had a healthier version of a milk shake for breakfast and it was delicious! I know, it sounds totally weird to drink spinach, and especially to mix it with chocolate and pretend it’s ice cream, but I promise, it worked! That’s a post for a different time. Spinach Basil Pesto tastes nothing like a shamrock shake, and I don’t think I would enjoy drinking it through a straw.

Anyway, I add spinach to my pesto to up the nutrition. Then when it comes time to drizzle in the oil, I do so very slowly, and stop when my pesto is spreadable, but still fairly thick and chunky. I like this texture far more than the oil-heavy pesto that is most common. Of course, if you prefer it silky smooth and oily, then by all means, continue drizzling until you reach your favorite pesto texture. My favorite way to serve pesto as of late is to mix it in with ricotta cheese and serve on rotini pasta with chicken. Whatever food you choose to add your fresh pesto to, I hope this one finds a permanent home in your recipe box!

 

Spinach Basil Pesto
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted almonds
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients, except the olive oil, in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until desired consistency is reached. I use about 2 tablespoons as I like to keep the pesto chunky.
Notes
To toast the almonds, place roughly chopped almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and beginning to turn golden brown. Alternately, place the almonds on a sheet tray in a 400F oven for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.

 

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2 Responses to “Spinach Basil Pesto”

  1. March 13, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    YUM. I love the photos on this post, beautiful.

    Does this mean we’re having Pesto for dinner? Katie will be happy. :)

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  1. 8 Festive Green Recipes to Make This Weekend! | Everyfoodrecipes, cooking tips, and how-to food videos—all rated and reviewed by millions of home cooks,make the perfect birthday cake, or plan your next holiday dinner. - March 13, 2014

    […] Spinach Basil Pesto from Daisy At Home. Pesto, like hummus, is one of those foods that adds tons of flavor and can be served in numerous ways. It’s also one of those foods that parents are often surprised to learn that kids love and will ask for time and time again. […]

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