Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Basil & Spinach Pesto

Do you ever find yourself with an overabundance of basil?  After making many a caprese salad, two big batches of these strawberry tarts, several glasses of blueberry basil lemonade, a couple watermelon orzo salads, and these beautiful lasagna roll-ups, I still had more basil than I knew what to do with this summer.  Especially since my tomatoes haven't done so hot this year.

Hmm, what to do with lots of extra basil....

Uh, make pesto, of course!  And then make some more (it actually freezes well, too!).

Pesto is great as a pasta sauce (leave about 1/2 c. cooking liquid in with the pasta before stirring it in), as a dipping sauce for veggies, to top chicken, or as a quick appetizer with some crackers.  I like to use half basil, half spinach to tone down the basil flavor a little for the kiddos and also add some dark green leafy veggies (always a plus in my book).  Here's how Mama makes it:

Basil & Spinach Pesto

- 1 c. packed basil leaves
- 1 c. packed baby spinach
- 1/3 c. pine nuts
- 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/2 t. salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of paprika, optional


1.  In a small pan, dry roast pine nuts over medium-high heat, stirring often until slightly browned, about 1-2 minutes.

2.  Wash basil and spinach leaves, remove stems, and pat dry.  Place in a food processor along with the toasted pine nuts and pulse several times.  Use a rubber scraper to scrape down the sides.

3.  Add grated parmesan and garlic cloves, pulse several more times and scrape sides.

4.  With the food processor on, slowly add the olive oil until pesto is smooth and lighter green.  Add paprika, salt and pepper, pulse a few times to mix.  Give it a good stir and use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

even if you're saving it for a pasta dish later that day,
be sure to taste test on a few crackers!

helpful hint:  To keep pesto from darkening, cover with plastic wrap and press down into the pesto so the surface is not exposed to air.

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