I love pesto. Even saying the word makes me want to jump up and down, boop people on the noggin saying, “Pesto presto!” for no apparent reason, but I don’t because that’s weird and people generally don’t like that.
I love eating it with baked salmon or tossing it in a quick pasta dish. It’s fragrant, keeps well in the fridge and makes a nice house-warming present that makes you look like you exerted more effort when really all you did was pop everything in a blender and took credit for all the work.
That being said, making the traditional pesto isn’t the most budget friendly. When I first tried making it years ago, I was shocked that it was asking for 2 cups or more of fresh basil. I was a poor college student then and paying more than $6 for a handful of herbs was bananas. Then, I moved to Singapore and lets multiple that number to three. I knew I had to find a way to increase the quantity but still have the essence of the classic pesto—enter: spinach.
2 cups unpacked spinach
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup unpacked fresh sweet basil
4 tbsps sunflower oil
Wash your spinach and dry them thoroughly. While they’re drying, take a non-stick skillet and toss in your walnuts on low-heat. Toss them for a couple of minutes until they’re fragrant, careful to not let them burn. Note: A dark leafy green works best such as kale or arugula, so skip the lettuce family to avoid your pesto from splitting when combined with the oil.
In a food processor, add your spinach, toasted walnuts, salt, garlic, and basil. Blitz until the texture is just dry and fine. Add the oil a tablespoon at a time until the pesto is saturated and shows a thin oil on the edge. Note: the smell of the basil should be quite distinct. Often the oil can over power it. If the smell is faint at this point, add a few more leaves.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.