Pesto is one of those recipes that seems so mysterious and complicated because of how delicious it is…when really its just a handful of this and a pinch of that into a food processor. I love when things are easy.
Pesto does not have to be basil-based….shocking! It can be other greens (spinach or chard) that have gone a little too wilty for salad. Still delicious and a wonderful alternative when basil isn’t available.
1 clove garlic (if fresh garlic bothers you, you could gently saute a chopped clove in olive oil until lightly browned. Then use both the garlic and its oil in the pesto).
1/4c. walnuts (or pine nuts)
2 c. tightly packed baby spinach (or basil)
3 tbs Parmesan cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
1-3 tbs olive oil
In a food processor, grind garlic and walnuts into a paste. Add spinach, bend well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add Parmesan, lemon zest a pinch of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper. Blend until the mixture has made a rough paste. With the lid still on the food processor, slowly stream in olive oil, while blending the mix. I like to stop, scrape down the sides and taste the mix before adding too much oil. I like my pesto very verdant and not oily; but it’s really your preference. Serves 2.
Serving suggestions: Over pasta, as a base for bruschetta, as a spread for a turkey and fresh mozzarella sandwich, as a topping for calzone, as a filling for an omelette.
Just a funny pic to share: I had bought elephant garlic; and they weren’t kidding.This monster was the size of my palm! Needless to say, I only used half in this pesto; I wasn’t fighting vampires or looking to alienate friends and neighbors by reeking of garlic.