Spinach Pesto Recipe
By Marlo Colletto (TC3 Farm CSA Member)
There are few foods that better encapsulate the fresh fragrant green of early summer than pesto. Traditionally made with basil, pesto can easily incorporate any variety of seasonal CSA greenery, from parsley to kale, and even fresh peas. It’s an easy item to impress with, and particularly if you have a food processor, is very quick and easy to prepare (thanks to the fact it’ll all be pureed, you’ll see I don’t bother to mince anything in this recipe, throwing in whole garlic gloves and pecans along with spinach—stems and all).
I have improvised widely with this basic recipe to great result, but this was my first attempt with spinach and I was excited to experiment. I view each CSA share as a Chopped-style challenge, often limiting myself through stubbornness and avoidance of shopping, to utilizing it only in combination with what’s already in my cupboard. Keeping that in mind, every recipe I devise includes optional substitutions and encourages imagination. Please alter the recipe to your preference, and remember, the directions are really more like suggestions.
- To get started, set the oven to 350 degrees to pre-heat, and assemble your ingredients.
- First, wash and measure out approximately 4 cups of spinach (stems and all to eliminate waste). Any spinach will do, but I used what came in my CSA share.
- Then, assemble any fresh herbs like parsley or basil that you have on hand, these will lend the dish more flavor and herbaceousness to compliment the spinach. I pinched off four sprigs from the potted TC3 Farm parsley plant on my windowsill.
- Next, measure a half cup of pecans onto a baking sheet, and if the oven is up to temp, pop them inside for 5 minutes or until toasted and aromatic. Although raw nuts will also work, toasting the pecans incorporated a warm and buttery aspect I found rounded the milder spinach and stronger garlic flavors out well.
- While the pecans toast, peel 3 cloves of garlic.
- If grating your own parmesan—which I recommend if you want to avoid cellulous anti-caking additives—take the time now to hand grate ½ cup of the fresh cheese.
- Next, it’s into the food processor* with everything: spinach, herbs, nuts, parmesan, and garlic all go in. Drizzle the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over it all, and puree to desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
- *If using a blender in place of a food processor, consider chopping the nuts and mincing the garlic ahead of time to ensure better incorporation and consistency. Then blend in small batches*.
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- Parsley and/or basil on hand
- ½ cup toasted pecans (walnuts or pine nuts will also do)
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons
- Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
To serve, spread the pesto over crackers for a snack. Use it as a topper for chicken breast. Make it into a sandwich with ciabatta, tomato, and fresh mozzarella. Or my favorite, mix into warm pasta with peas, and top with cheese.