Spinach pesto

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I totally forgot about What I Ate Wednesday until today – which means I didn’t take any pictures of my food on Monday or any other day for that matter!  Slightly annoyed with myself so I’ve put a reminder in my phone to do it next week 🙂

To make it up to you, I have a nice and recipe for spinach pesto below, plus some ideas of how to use it.  Yes, I know it’s not on the mealplan.  I forgot to defrost the cod for tonight, so swapped the meals round, but then decided I’d be better for leaving the soup in the freezer for another time and making something for the spinach, which I bought reduced and was in need of being used.

Because I used reduced to clear/”yellow sticker” spinach (25p for the bag) and the ingredients I already had in, this ended up pretty cheap.  But you can jazz it up in various ways so I’ve noted some variations below.

If you’ve never had spinach pesto before, it’s got a milder taste than the usual basil kind but otherwise can be used in much the same ways.  Tonight I stirred it through some pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, toasted cashews and some fried onions, but it’d also be nice with chicken or as a sandwich spread.

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Spinach Pesto (serves 3/4)

This will be much easier for you if you have a food processor, or at least a jug blender.  If not, you can pound the nuts and garlic in a mortar and pestle then add finely shredded spinach leaves and bash again before adding oil.

  • 200g bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 50g cashew nuts, pine nuts or walnuts (I used cashews)
  • handful finely grated parmesan or similar cheese
  • vegetable or olive oil (I used vegetable because I was running out of olive oil, but olive would be nicer)

Pulse the cashew nuts in the food processor, and once finely chopped (but not totally ground) add the spinach and garlic.  Pulse again until the spinach is all chopped and reduced down.

Add a good glug of oil, stir in, season well with salt and pepper, and pulse again for a second to combine.  Use your judgement to see how much more oil you need – I don’t like it too oily, but you want to be able to stir it easily.

Once you’ve got the right consistency, add the parmesan to taste and stir in.  Serve mixed through pasta, on pizza or chicken, or any way you like.

Variations – as noted in the recipe, you can change the oil or nuts you use.  You can also swap some of the spinach for the more traditional basil (you’ll want to use fresh, not dried, though).  I’m not sure what it’d be like with defrosted frozen spinach, but will definitely have to give that one a go at some point.

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Pasta with Spinach Pesto, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Cashews (serves 2)

  • 150-200g dried pasta (I used penne)
  • 1/2 or 1/3 quantity of the spinach pesto recipe above (I only made a 3/4 batch and used all of it, but it was  a very generous portion)
  • 30g sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water
  • 30g cashew nuts
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 small onions, or one medium one, finely sliced
  • handful parmesan, grated

Cook the pasta as per packet directions.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan and add the onions and cashews.  Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the onions are soft and the cashews have turned golden.

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into strips and throw them in with the onions and cashews.  I also added the water used to soak the tomatoes and reduced it down slightly so it would thin the pesto (be warned this makes it saltier though – you can add a splash of water instead if you want).

Drain the pasta once cooked and add, along with the pesto, to the pan with the other ingredients.  Toss through and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan on each portion.

So what’s your favourite thing to do with pesto?  Have you ever made it yourself?


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