Why wait for summer basil? I recently concocted a winter pesto recipe that I’m exceedingly fond of. Not only does it pack the flavor punch of traditional basil pesto, it makes me genuinely happy to eat raw spinach (and olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and nuts, and…!). I’ve taken to eating it on crackers, dolloped on sautéed chicken (sorry, girls), and mixed in with salads of various sorts.
But maybe the thing that pleases me most about my new spinach pesto recipe is that it allows me to use winter garden greens to create a wholly pleasing version of one of my favorite summer foods. Sure, I could drive to the store and buy some foreign-born basil to blend up a batch of pesto, but I can just as easily meander into the garden and repurpose an oft-maligned vegetable to create a delightful seasonal spinoff.
Without further ado:
6 large cloves of garlic
½-1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 cup olive oil
Juice from one juicy lemon
1 cup cashews or walnuts, chopped (unless you have an awesome blender)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 packed cups spinach, chopped
2 packed cups parsley, chopped
You know your own blender best. If it’s fabulous, simply crush the garlic with a garlic press and add to the blender or food processor along with all other ingredients. If, on the other hand, it’s anything like ours, you will have to chop the nuts and veggies first and add ingredients in small batches, blending as you go.
For the record, this recipe is almost equally tasty without the cheese. If lactose isn’t your friend, don’t hesitate to exclude the Parmesan. A final warning: this spinach pesto is very garlic-y. Modify as you see fit.