Spinach pesto is a staple in my house (as well as one of my client’s – I make it for them nearly every week). It’s beautiful, delicious, and healthy, plus relatively quick to prepare. You could make it even more quickly than I do, but I think the two potentially “fussy” touches render the final product much tastier. Remember that tastier = more kid (and grown-up) friendly.
Pesto is delicious on pasta, obviously. I also like it spooned over roasted chicken, on steamed or roasted potatoes, and dolloped on hard-boiled eggs. Nearly any food that needs a little zing will take well to this tangy sauce.
To make the streamlined version of this pesto, skip steps 1, 2 and 3. Your pesto will be a bit less smooth and have a little less depth, but will still likely be a hit with eaters of all ages.
5 oz. package baby spinach
½ cup pine nuts or blanched almonds (such as slivers)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes. This can also be done in a dry sauté pan over medium heat. Make sure to keep an eye on the nuts regardless of which method you choose. They burn quickly.
2. Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and cook for 10 seconds. Drain, pushing out as much water from the spinach as possible, and reserve.
3. Let the spinach and pine nuts cool for 5-10 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
4. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. If the pesto seems too thick (especially if you didn’t blanch the spinach), add more olive oil. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper if necessary.
To store the pesto, place it in a container and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. It will keep in the fridge for three days or in the freezer for up to a month. I like to divide the pesto into three batches: one for the fridge and two for the freezer. It’s like dinner insurance.