Friday, August 19, 2011

Spinach and Walnut Pesto

This is by far my favorite go-to sauce of the summer. So easy to make, just throw everything into a food processor and Voila...dinner is served in less than 15 minutes. There are SO many ways to use Pesto. Pour the sauce over some whole-wheat spaghetti, brush it on your pizza, use it as a dip for veggies, lather it on BBQ chicken, use it as a sandwich spread on a grilled sandwich with artichokes and fresh mozzarella, and I could go on and on.  There are also many variations of pesto, but I stuck to a no-fuss recipe that incorporates raw spinach and walnuts (pine nuts are just too expensive!). Have fun with the recipe, and check out the Change it Up section below for new ideas.

**The recipe is my own creation...YEY! I know I don't get to say that very often. :)

 Pesto Recipe 
Serves: 4-6  Prep: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 0 minutes

1/3 cup walnuts
1 cup basil, lightly packed
1 cup spinach, lightly packed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil, light in flavor
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Place walnuts in a food processor, and blend till finely chopped.
2. Add basil and garlic, blend till incorporated and the spinach and basil are finely chopped.
3. Slowly drizzle the olive oil while the food processor is blending, and process for about 30 seconds.
4. Add parmesan cheese and process again for about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper if desired.


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Chop garlic ahead of you want.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Add a little (1/8-1/4 tsp)cayenne pepper, smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder for a little pizazz!
~Use all spinach or all basil instead of half and half.  
~Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil instead of light in flavor.
~Try a different hard cheese like Romano or Sheep cheese. 
~Roast your walnuts for a different flavor. 
~Replace walnuts with pecans, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts or brasil nuts. 
~Chop up a couple sun dried tomatoes and add them to the mix.

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