Made with a blend of baby spinach and basil, you hardly even know that spinach is packed into this delicious spinach pesto.
Pesto is often thought of as a summer sauce, served with tomatoes and mozzarella or cold pasta salad.
But I love pesto in the winter, especially spinach pesto, which packs more of a nutritional punch. Spinach adds nutrients like Vitamin K, Vitamin C, iron and calcium.
This pesto tastes very close to traditional basil pesto. It's made from basil, spinach, garlic, parmesan, olive oil and your choice of nut. The pesto is vibrant and flavorful. You might not even know the spinach is in there!
Spinach pesto is perfect served with Instant Pot orzo, tossed with tuna pesto pasta, or spooned into Slow Cooker White Beans and Tomato Soup with Orzo. I also love spreading pesto on toasted slices of baguette.
Spinach: Buy a bag of pre-washed baby spinach to make life easy. You can add as little, or as much, spinach as you want to this pesto. For your first batch, just add a small handful to see how you like it.
Basil: Basil is what gives this pesto a traditional, familiar flavor.
Parmesan: The texture of pesto is best when you grate a wedge of parmesan by hand, instead of using pre-grated cheese. You can use the real deal (Parmigiano Reggiano) or less-expensive Grana Padano. If possible, use a blend of parmesan and pecorino for more flavor.
Garlic: One small clove is enough for my family, but you can pack as much garlic into this pesto as you like.
Nuts: Your choice! Traditional pesto is made from pine nuts, but you can make this pesto without pine nuts if you want. I often used slivered almonds (try my almond pesto recipe) or walnuts (try lemon garlic shrimp pasta with arugula walnut pesto).
Olive oil: The flavor of the olive oil will affect the pesto, so use olive oil that you like.
Step 1: Blend the nuts, garlic and cheese until very finely ground
Step 2: Add the spinach. Blend until the leaves are very finely chopped. Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed.
Step 3: Add the basil. With the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil. Process until the pesto reaches a consistency you like.
For exact ingredient measurements, see recipe below.
FAQs about Spinach Pesto
It's up to you. The recipe suggests a small handful, but you can add more or less, depending on what tastes good to you.
Yes, but it won't taste like traditional pesto. Make sure to blend it well so the spinach is very finely chopped or a smooth paste.
Cheese helps gives pesto it's rich texture and savory flavor. If you don't want to add cheese, you can make vegan pesto by adding half of an avocado instead, which changes the flavor slightly but adds a creamy texture. You can also try adding a few teaspoons of nutritional yeast, which has a savory flavor similar to cheese.
Spinach adds a vibrant green color to this pesto, but eventually even this pesto will take on a darker, brownish hue. This happens when the blended basil leaves are exposed to air (or heat) for even a short amount of time. It's almost impossible to avoid oxidation, but there are a few tricks that might help.
1. Blanch the basil and spinach in boiling water for 10 seconds, then plunge into ice water. Squeeze excess water out of the leaves, then continue with the recipe. 2. Add lemon to the pesto
3. Add ascorbic or citric acid. This is what's often added to store-bought pesto.
4. Store the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil on top, then press plastic wrap against the olive oil
Yes, you can go down to 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. It's likely you'll have to add salt to make up for the lost flavor.
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