Isn’t spring wonderful? Spring weather makes me want to eat green things. This spinach pesto is no exception. It is milder than the basil pesto you may be familiar with and this version is kept lighter in taste without the addition of cheese like many pestos.
I would have happily used walnuts or pine nuts, even almonds, but I happened to have pecans on hand. Pecans have a mild buttery-ness and they are very oily, making them a good pairing to the deeply green tasting spinach. A good squirt of lemon juice balances the flavour as well as keeping the colour bright by preventing oxidation. This pesto came together in minutes and with the exception of peeling garlic, required essentially no preparation. I tossed it with hot orzo and steamed pea pods for a brilliantly green supper but you could put it to many uses: sandwiches, pizza, salad dressings, a mix-in for mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs, or a delicious instant sauce for hot vegetables. With 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) it’s likely the easiest and most spring-like thing you can make.
This recipe makes use of a food processor, but you could use a blender (or even a mortar and pestle) instead.
4 cups (packed) fresh spinach
3/4 cup pecan halves (or use any oily nut: walnuts or pine nuts <which are actually seeds> are excellent choices)
juice of half a lemon
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
salt & pepper
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the pecans until they become like coarse sand. Add the garlic and enough olive oil to allow the mix to become a paste. Add the spinach leaves. Run the processor until the spinach is mulched into the nuts and garlic. Add the lemon juice and while the machine is still running, begin to slowly drizzle in olive oil. How much olive oil you will use depends on the texture you want your pesto. I like mine less oily and somewhat mousse-like, you might prefer yours wetter and more oily (more like the store bought version). Add the oil, stopping occasionally to check the texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once blended to your desired consistency, scrape the pesto into a tight sealing container and keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks. If you want it to remain the pristine emerald colour, after each use, smooth the pesto so the surface is flat and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface to seal it and prevent it from darkening.
Use to flavour soups, tossed with hot pasta, on potatoes, spread on bread, etc., etc.