So you’re fed up of meat, you feel fat and you need something easy with a few vitamins in it. What do you do? You make Cook Eat Discover’s easy spinach pesto of course! Mix with a little cooked spaghetti and you’ve got a tasty and healthy dinner in a matter of minutes. Trust me, this recipe’s a keeper.
But what actually is pesto?
We usually think of pesto being the quintessential basil and pine nut sauce that we all know well. This is the classic pesto, from the city of Genoa in the Liguria region.
However pestos can come in all shapes and sizes. The word comes from the verb ‘pestare - to crush’, and can be used as a name for all kinds of crushed paste-type sauces.
For example, you can find a Sicilian pesto, made from ingredients like almonds and sun-dried tomatoes. You can get pretty creative with a pesto; there’s usually garlic, hard cheese - like Parmesan, a nut element - this could be pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, even cashews and macadamias, and a herb or vegetable element - like basil, parsley, spinach, even peppers or olives. Finally, to tie it all together, some oil and some acidity - usually in the form of lemon juice. Just blend it all together, or use a pestle and mortar if you’re a purist. Assess the flavour and consistency, e.g add a little salt if too bland, a little oil if too dry, and you will have created something really tasty to toss hot pasta in.
Here’s our spinach pesto, a weekday evening winner!
Pesto di Spinaci
100g fresh spinach leaves
25g blanched almonds
15g pine nuts
Juice of half a lemon
Half garlic clove
120g good extra virgin olive oil
30g grated Parmesan
Salt, to season
1 Put all the ingredients in jug or bowl and blend well with a stick blender until smooth. If the mixture is still too thick, add a little more orange juice to loosen it up. Season well with salt. Simple as that!
2 Put some pesto in a pan, and add hot steaming pasta to it. (For 4 people, you will probably only need half of this pesto). Loosen with some of the cooking water, adding enough to create a loose yet creamy consistency. Serve!