A good sauce can turn any bowl of rice, pasta, or salad into a great dinner. This includes my current obsession, Spinach Walnut Pesto.
I am a total sauce junkie. I want all the condiments on the table, all the time. Sometimes when I can’t decide what I want for dinner, I start by making a batch of a sauce or dressing that I love and figure out what to make from there.
Pesto is a really nice way to get your greens in. Pulverizing them with a food processor or a mortar and pestle transforms them from a massive pile of leaves into something that fits nicely into a mason jar. A spoonful of this Spinach Walnut Pesto has the same amount of green veggies in it than your average side salad. It’s a great way to use up that bag of baby spinach that’s lurking around in your crisper drawer.
Why no pine nuts?
I made this pesto recipe without pine nuts or basil to show just how versatile pesto can be. 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? I make my pesto based on whatever I have around. 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 favourite options for greens are parsley, spinach, arugula, or a combination of a few of those.
No greens? No problem!
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.
How to make this Spinach Walnut Pesto
This little sauce is a cinch to make, as long as you have a food processor or a high-powered blender. A mortar and pestle works too, but it’ll take much longer.
Start by grinding the walnuts, garlic, and salt in the food processor until everything is roughly chopped. Add in the spinach and parsley, pulse until it’s mostly chopped up, then continue to blend while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
How to customize this Spinach Walnut Pesto
This basic spinach walnut pesto recipe can 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 Parmesan in there! I wanted to show you the most basic version so you could tweak it based on your mood and what’s in your fridge.
What goes well with pesto?
Around my house, this bright green multi-purpose magic sauce makes its way onto things like roast chicken, roasted sweet potatoes or other veggies, french lentils, salads, and so much more. It’s hard to think of anything that won’t be improved with a dollop of this stuff! Here are a few of my favourites:
- Add a spoonful to a bowl of soup
- Serve on the side of roast potatoes or other roast veggies
- Use as a topping for baked potatoes
- Serve on the side of roast chicken
- Add lemon juice to turn it into a quick salad dressing for your at-home salad bar
Let me know what you love to eat your pesto with! Tag me on Instagram @howtomakedinner with your pesto creations.
Easy Spinach Walnut Pesto (Without Pinenuts)
- 100 grams raw walnuts
- 150 grams baby spinach
- 50 grams fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic
- 100 millilitres extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (taste, then add another 1/2 tsp if needed).
- Start by grinding the walnuts and the garlic in the food processor until they are coarsely but evenly chopped.
- Add the greens and salt, then blend while adding the olive oil in slowly while blending.