Wild Ginger

recipes for pleasure and nurishment

Pesto Cheat (Spinach Pesto)

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Once, in the fall but when the herbs were still going in the garden, I planned on making a pesto dish, banking on the mostly bolted but still edible sweet basil in my garden. But, alas, the frost had turned each and every leave a deep black. It was ruined and so were my plans. Standing in front of the fridge, with not enough time to shop, I spied the large bags of garden spinach, thankfully harvested before the frost. My mind jumped to the recently purchased basil olive oil, and I decided to make a basil pesto out of spinach.

It worked. People had no idea it was spinach. This is great for pasta salads and to replace the tomato sauce on many pizza recipes. I especially like it on my variation of The Nutcracker pizza from Iowa City’s The Wedge Pizzeria, which is a delightful veggie pizza that features pistachios and gorgonzola and fontina cheeses. As with many of my recipes, I adapt this pesto as suits my needs, taste, and what I have in the pantry, which can be frustrating for those cooks who like very specific instructions. This is why I rarely bake!

4.5 ounces of fresh spinach or 1/2 bag of spinach
1-2 fresh garlic cloves (if you use more it may be too powerful)
1/2 cup of nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds–or mix them)
1/4 cup Basil olive oil (you can use more or less, depending on the texture you want. I prefer less and add oil as needed as I process)

Rinse and spin dry spinach. Add all ingredients to food processor. If using a small processor, do this in batches. Begin with half the amount of oil, process, and look over the texture. I like the greens to be a bit flaky looking, not the normal green glop of pesto. One can also heat it up and add pepper flakes or chopped fresh peppers.



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