Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Basil Spinach Pesto

It's that pesto time of year. Basil is on and oh, I love it.

While basil, in and of itself, is not at all devoid of nutrition, it's still not quite the powerhouse that other things green and leafy are. I'm okay with that, but I did start wondering what would happen to my pesto if I mixed some spinach into it. Because, you know, when you're mixing green stuff into pasta made from white flour, well, you (and by 'you' I mean 'me') want to feel kind of good about yourself. I mean you really don't want to feel like the pickiest nine-year-old alive who is sitting across from you and eating his pasta with tomato sauce is actually getting more nutrition. Because that's just embarrassing. And then one day as I was pondering about spinach pesto, I found this. Okay, so I'm never the first one to a party, but that doesn't mean I can't take home a party favor.

Since pine nuts are expensive enough right now to set into a gold band, I used walnuts in this. I also omitted the Parmesan (as I always do in pesto, figuring you can add it into your dish later if you want it).

I was worried that the spinach and parsley would overpower the basil, but basil--she's a strong girl and can carry her own. I had this for lunch today and while it was a wee wee bit less basil-y than my classic pesto, it was still a basil-based pesto through and through. Truly, if I hadn't been trying to compare the spinach to the sans spinach versions, I never would have thought to notice a difference. In fact, if there is someone in your family who doesn't like classic pesto because it has so very very much basil-y kick (cough, Kip), this might be just the ticket as it is slightly more subdued. How awesome is that? You can please your picky eaters and trick them into eating spinach at the same time. I'm kind of freaking out about it it.

This was great on pasta and would be delicious on sandwiches, pizza, and over meat. You can also use it in your pasta sauces and meatballs (two places I love me some pesto), although here I must say that I do prefer the classic pesto in my meatballs and spaghetti sauce. That said, 'prefer' doesn't mean that this spinach-y one wasn't still very good in those things. It was good (and the difference was not noticed by anyone but me); it just wasn't quite as good.

Basil Spinach Pesto
adapted from Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Makes about 2 Cups (about enough to fill up an ice cube tray)
Prep time: 20-30 minutes (the de-leafing of the herbs gets you)
Cost: $2.00
basil: mine's from the garden and free; I'm guessing it would be .50-1.00, but don't know as I haven't bought it in several years; parsley: .20, spinach: .50, olive oil: .50-1.00)

Note: This recipe also calls for parsley (not too shabby nutritionally either). I did use parsley and this pesto really was great, but I think that if you don't have it, you could probably add another cup of spinach, basil or a combo of both to very good effect as the parsley adds only a very subtle mildness to the pesto.

2 C basil leaves
2 C spinach leaves
2 C parsley leaves
1/2-1 C walnuts (use sunflower seeds for a nut-free version)
4 cloves garlic
1/2-1 C olive oil

Clean and remove leaves from their stems. Peel and crush the garlic. Add ingredients to food processor or blender and process until smooth (The blender gives me a smoother pesto if you care about that sort of thing).

Store it. I freeze mine in ice cube trays, then plop them into a Ziploc bag. Then I can add 1 or 2 to sandwiches or a dip or whatever if I just need a small amount, which I often do.


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