Friday, April 9, 2010

Spinach Pesto

{ETA: Hey, folks! Recently I decided that I wanted to improve our family's health by cooking healthier, so I joined up with a few cooking groups to relearn some cooking skills and to have fun with it. Today, I was catching up with some friends and heard about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. He's about healthy food and healthy kids. Check out his website - after you try the pesto! :) Check your local's on tonight!}

Spinach. Can't say that I'm really a fan, if it's cooked, but if it's fresh and mixed in with other green leafies, I'm good.

Pesto. So easy to prepare, store and serve. Love it. The fresh kind...leaves of basil, garlic, olive oil and most importantly...toasted pine nuts. Mmmmm.

Unless you grow your own, fresh basil for pesto can get a bit pricey, especially if you're throwing a dinner party for more than just your own. And then there are the pine nuts. Truly seeds from a few types of pine trees! Basil and pine nuts make my favorite pesto!

In my last SW (Simple Woman) post I mentioned that I had come into a lot of spinach! The kids love pasta and we had a busy week coming up, so I figured we'd whip up some pasta and pesto and call it done.

Seriously, there isn't much to making pesto - good food processor and fresh ingredients. I tend to be a recipe follower when I'm making something for the first time. After that, it's mostly tossing a bit of this, and a tad of that...using whatever we have on hand. As in, had a bunch of spinach and walnuts (no fresh basil or pine nuts!), so Spinach Pesto coming up!

(Note: Spinach pesto made with walnuts will taste different than Basil pesto with pine nuts. I know, it seems pretty obvious, but you know there are just some I'm just saying! If you get a chance make the's lovely!)

The ingredients are approximate. This really is a taste as you go kind of recipe. I'm sure if you needed more exact measurements, you can google it!

2 big handfuls of stemmed, washed and dried (as in 'with a towel') spinach leaves
    *spinach leaves can be pretty gritty - wash spinach a couple of times!
3-5 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. of dried basil leaves, crumbled (mostly basil and a pinch of mint is good, too!)
couple pinches of salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (toasting is optional, but definitely recommended!)

1/2 cup of parmesan (You can use the canned stuff, but the real stuff is much more flavorful! I use parmesan and romano cheeses.)

Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to make this in a few batches and then combine it all in a larger container. (I have to make mine in 2 batches.) Throw in some spinach, some garlic, the basil, the salt, some nuts and a little olive oil. Using the pulse button, pulse until the spinach is minced fine, adding olive oil, as needed to keep a smooth don't want it too chunky or green, goopy paste!

Just keep repeating until you use all the ingredients. Combine it all in another container, if you had to make it in batches, and then mix in the cheese. Add salt to taste, if needed. To store it, pour it into a clean, glass container and pour olive oil to cover. (Keep topping it off with olive oil, as you use it.) Store in the fridge.

I don't like to heat the spinach pesto, so if we're using it for leftovers, I heat those first and then toss the warm pasta with the pesto.

That's it! Easy peasy.

Here's how I ate it the first night...with chicken, crumbled bacon and spaghetti.

Pesto is also good on toasted bread and as a base for pizza (with or without the red sauce) with canadian ham or chicken.

Let me know, if you try it or change up the recipe. I love to try new variations!



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