I Am A Sauce Junkie.
I LOVE sauce. I want all the condiments on the table all the time. I often decide what to make to eat based of its ability to deliver me a particular sauce. One of my favourite dinnertime strategies is to start by making a batch of a sauce or dressing that I LOVE, and figuring out what to make from there. A good sauce can turn any bowl of rice, pasta, or salad into a great dinner. This includes my current obsession, spinach walnut pesto.
A Sauce For Every Mood
I go through definite phases with my sauce preferences. It depends on my mood, the weather, the season, all kinds of things. Last month I was obsessed with Lemon Tahini dressing. Other times I just want creamy blue cheese on everything. Right now, in this very moment, it’s all about my easy spinach walnut pesto.
Put It On Anything
In the past few weeks, this bright green multi-purpose magic sauce has made its way onto things like roast chicken, (dry brined of course) sweet potatoes, french lentils, salads, a delicious pan roast of cubed paneer, fennel and peppers, and an ultimate bagel sandwich that I’ll be talking about in the next post (It’s so good that I need to work up to it).
Packed With Good Stuff
Any pesto is a really nice way to get your greens in too. Pulverizing them with a food processor or mortar and pestle transforms them from a massive pile, into something that will fit nicely in a jar. I can say with some confidence that a spoonful of this spinach walnut pesto has the same amount of green veggies in it than your average side salad. And I don’t always feel like eating salad, y’know? Or even better, toss your salad with spinach pesto, like I did with this skillet salad and you’ve got a delicious greens-on greens-scenario.
And Who Can Afford Pine Nuts?
I’m not just talking about basil here. In fact, I rarely make the traditional Genovese-style basil & pine nut pesto. Basil isn’t readily available all year round, at least not where I live, and who can afford pine nuts anyway? My various versions of pesto are all over the map. I use basically any nut or seed I have on hand, and any green thing that looks fresh and calls out to me. Nut-wise I tend to go with almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds, and my contenders in the greens department are usually things like parsley, spinach, arugula, or a combination of a few of those.
Pesto doesn’t have to be green either. Directly translated, pesto means PASTE, so theoretically it could be made from anything. For example you’ve probably seen the jar of sun-dried tomato pesto in your travels around the grocery store. It tends to live right next to the green one on the shelf.
A Spinach Walnut Pesto Framework
This basic spinach walnut pesto recipe can also be altered in many ways. If you want to thin it out for a dressing, squeeze in some lemon juice and/or water. If you want it to be cheesy (which pesto usually is) by all means get some Parm in there! I wanted to show you the most basic version so you could tweak it to suit your mood, and what you have in your fridge
Spinach & Walnut Pesto
Makes one jar, about 500ml
100g walnuts - raw
150g baby spinach
3-4 cloves of garlic
100ml olive oil
1 tsp salt
Kick things off with the walnuts and garlic in the food processor, then add the greens and blend. Add the olive oil in slowly towards the end.
Once you have a jar of this in your fridge, you will have a much easier time deciding what to make. It’s like the condiment sets the tone for everything else. One of my absolute favourite ways to have it is also the simplest, which is just stirred in to some nice Tortellini with lots of Parmesan. Bulk the tortellini up with equal amounts of broccoli, added to the pasta pot for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time, and you’ve got one of the fastest, trustiest dinners out there.
How do you like your pesto? Tell me your favourite pesto combos to the comments below!