Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spinach Basil Pesto

Pesto is a great way to eat vegetables, I've decided.  By varying the greens (like using just basil or just cilantro) or the nuts (almonds or walnuts instead of pine nuts), it can be made in lots of creative ways.

But it's always packed with nutrients.  Like the B vitamins and phytonutrients in green leafies, the anti-oxidant (anti-inflammatory) properties of garlic and olive oil, and increased alkalinity from fresh lemon.

The added spinach in my version also gives the best food source of CoQ10, which works for the body's energy metabolism (think Popeye!) especially for the heart, lungs, and kidneys.  It's also an all-around anti-oxidant as well. For this reason alone (the CoQ10), I always keep a box of organic baby spinach washed and ready to eat in the fridge.

Probably most important is the taste really hits the spot!  And with Herculean versatility, spices up anything from crackers to pasta to a french omelette.  Did I mention it takes about 2 minutes to make? 

Spinach Basil Pesto

1/4 cup nuts (almonds or walnuts; pine nuts are classic if you have them) 
1 large clove garlic

Process these in the food processor (start the nuts first into a nut "meal", then add the garlic) until finely chopped.  Then add:

2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
2 handfuls fresh basil
kosher salt, pepper to taste 
juice of one fresh lemon
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil
romaine, asiago, or parmesan cheese (about 1/8 cup or to taste)

The added liquids (lemon, olive oil) on top of the spinach and basil help it process down. And it all reduces down into a much smaller quantity, believe it or not, and stores well for 3-4 days longer in the fridge. I've also seen pesto made the old-fashioned way with a large mortar and pestle but that's a bit too much work in my kitchen.

Here are a few ways I like to eat this pesto:
  • Pizza Crackers (a great no-carb snack packed with veggies)
  • French Omelette (add a few dollups of pesto inside the omelette as it's cooking before folding up the sides)
  • Zuccini "Pasta" (or with any other gluten-free pasta like rice noodles, cauliflower "rice", spaghetti squash, or rice crackers) 
Let me know how you like it!

Adele Sonora
Nutrition and Health Educator


  1. Pesto time! I love pesto, particularly freshly made at home. Basil pesto is certainly the original, I guess? But your spinach pesto sounds very delicious and nutritious as you pointed out. I have made pesto with basil (of course!?), and other variations like cilantro pesto and parsley pesto. But never tried spinach. Good idea!! I'll have to try spinach pesto for sure. Sounds yummy! To store pesto, I sometimes use an ice cube container with olive oil on top to prevent oxidize and freeze it so that you can take out pesto cubes according to the amount you want to use. But, in case of spinach pesto, you don't have to worry about the seasonal factor (basil)....spinach is available for all seasons! Hence, you don't have to worry about a long time storage. As you said, pesto is nutritious and can be handy....I sometimes put pesto over warm rice, soup, grilled fish and even with a steak! Thanks for the new recipe....spinach pesto!

    1. hey that's a great idea John -- putting pesto in ice cube trays. Fabulous. And I love the way you eat it, over rice, soup, fish, or steak. I'll try it!