Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spinach Pesto

Spinach Pesto
This is an amazing pesto made with a slight twist from the traditional recipe (basil, pine nut, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil)... and by far one of the best I have had yet.  Granted nothing beats the taste and smell of fresh basil from my garden during the summer, but considering it is the middle of January and ridiculously beyond freezing here in Pennsylvania, having anything fresh tasting to eat is a bonus.  Because this recipe calls for organic baby spinach, which is easy to find any time of year, I knew it would be a bit bland as is.  The trick?  A jalapeno.  One seeded jalapeno gives this pesto a small kick and a flavor that made my son ask "what is in this mom?" as he gobbled up a huge plateful of pasta and told me it was delicious.  I can't say it actually tastes like Mexican food or anything since the prevalence of the Parmesan and garlic certainly take over, but the fact that it has parsley, lemon and jalapeno definitely increase the brightness of the dish.  And the pumpkin seeds are just a simple, easier to find and slightly less expensive version of pine nuts and a fun way to add a little creativity to the meal.  Next time around I plan to save a few pumpkin seeds to top the dish with as well for a little crunch and extra nutritional boost. Healthier for you than more cheese, although that is always nice as well!  This sauce is great on pasta, gnocchi, mixed with rice or as a topping for fish or chicken.  And it lasts for awhile in the fridge so you can easily save some for another recipe. I only used half on the first night for a pound of spaghetti and mixed the rest with some quinoa pasta and white beans a few nights later for another satisfying meal.

Spinach Pesto

1 C. organic baby spinach
1/4 C. parsley
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 seeded jalapeno
1/2 C. shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 C. organic Parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Place all of the ingredients together in a food processor or high powered blender and combine until smooth. Makes about a cup.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

all blended together

side view

served mixed with whole wheat spaghetti
and a side of grape tomatoes and chicken meat balls

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