February 4, 2013
You all know how much I love pesto, right? The flavorful sauce traditionally made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and olive oil is a near perfect family meal ingredient for breakfast (seriously!), lunch and dinner.
I’m a nut for making sure that I always have pesto on hand, so I make a big batch at least once a month to store in my freezer. It’s so easy to do—you can use kale, spinach or roasted red peppers; almonds, pistachios or walnuts—and then it’s always waiting for you, your sitter or who ever needs to throw together a quick meal.
And we haven’t even gotten to all the ways that you can use pesto, from eggs and sandwiches to dressings and marinades.
I was recently asked to do a video for one of my favorite mom sites, the super chic Elizabeth Street. (How lucky am I?!) They wanted a recipe that was elegant, practical and laid back. Something like a gorgeous, colorful scarf that makes every outfit look better. I knew right away that I had to share my recipe for Spinach Almond Pesto.
Of all the pestos I’ve made over the years, this one is my favorite. The flavor is very close to classic basil pesto, but it offers a nutrition boost thanks to everyone’s favorite dark leafy green. As much as I love kale pesto, spinach pesto is even easier and faster to throw together.
I also have a weakness for this Spinach Almond Pesto since it’s one of the hungry toddler’s favorites. This kid could live on rice and beans alone and has a particular aversion to anything in leaf form. I love watching him gobble a big bowl of pasta tossed with this gorgeous, silky sauce. I love telling him that it’s made with spinach even more. He never believes me. Sucker.
So, if you haven’t already, watch me wax philosophic about Spinach Pesto. If you do, you’ll get to see the hungry toddler, too. He’s insanely cute and worth the watch. Then hop on over to Elizabeth Street for my video on how to make Spinach Almond Pesto. The best part is that I also give my 5 favorite suggestions for how to use pesto beyond pasta. School lunch idea alert: Don’t miss out!
(Pssst! Click through to the second slide to go straight to the how-to video.)
Spinach Almond Pesto
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)
4 cups (about ½ lb) fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, trimmed
1 large clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup toasted almonds (you can substitute toasted walnuts or pine nuts)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ cup high quality olive oil, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Add spinach and basil to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade. Pulse about 5 times to finely chop leaves. Add garlic, almonds and zest. Puree until the mixture turns into a paste. Turn food processor off and scrape down the sides.
2. Put food processor on again and, while running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Puree until desired consistency, adding more oil as necessary. You may need to stop once along the way to scrape sauce down the sides again.
3. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add grated Parmesan; pulse 2-3 more times to incorporate. Do not leave the food processor running or pulse too many times or you run the risk of breaking down the protein in the grated cheese which can make the cheese gunky. Use immediately (there are so many possibilities; these are my favorite ways to use pesto), store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days (you can cover the pesto with extra olive oil), or freeze small portions in an ice cube tray and store in your freezer for up to three months.