Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spinach Basil Pesto

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Ahh... how I love my Aerogarden. When we moved a little over a month ago, I was forced to use up the herbs I was growing so that I could start with a fresh set of herbs in my new kitchen. A month later, my Aerogarden has grown some wonderful herbs for me to use...


I currently have 4 kinds of basil (Lemon, Thai, Napolitano, and Red Rubin) as well as Mint, Epazote, and Savory. My basils have been doing well and it was about time to take some and use up. The first thing that came to mind was pesto.


Traditional pesto involves processing fresh basil, grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil together to form a paste. Because I didn't have quite as much basil for a decent batch of pesto, I added some fresh baby spinach to bulk it up.


This Spinach & Basil Pesto was nothing more than the few basil leaves I picked from my garden (from all four kinds of basil), fresh baby spinach leaves, freshly grated parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, sea salt and some extra virgin olive oil. I don't have precise measurements of these ingredients since I based it on looks and consistency.... which is not too thick or too thin. (I know, that probably doesn't clarify either...)


The great thing about pesto is how versatile this simple mixture is. It's wonderful tossed with hot pasta, over chicken, on top of pizza, as a spread on sandwiches or paninis, etc. Even better is that it holds up well in the fridge and freezer! I know this batch will probably last me a a week or two so stay tuned to future recipes in which I use it!

  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Blend the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.


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