Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Do you love pesto, but have trouble keeping basil plants alive?  That's me.  I'm on plant #2, which I adopted from a friend who moved away (thanks, Jen!) and so far, it's doing well.  My last one flourished for a time, then got nibbled down to the stems by bugs, so I'm still deep in the mindset of conserving the precious leaves.  With all the trouble my basil has put me through, I can't even contemplate harvesting the entire plant to grind up for a few measly tablespoons of pesto--no matter how tasty.  And don't even get me started on pine nuts...

Thank goodness for this cheapie version of pesto.  It doesn't taste anything like its traditional basil-based cousin, but it has that texture, that lightness, and tastes like a burst of summer.  Nothing's missing from this pesto, and believe me, you'll want to put it on everything.  I sure did!

Spinach and Walnut Pesto
Total Recipe Cost: $2.52 for 1 cup of pesto!

Don't you hate it when recipes call for lemon zest, but no lemon juice?  Sadly, this one won't use up all the juice from your zested lemon.  Don't worry though, if you don't foresee finishing it in the near future, just freeze the juice in ice trays, and store frozen cubes in a ziploc bag.

1 cup walnuts
1/3 lb spinach, flat-leaf (approx.)
zest from 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking pan, and toast for 1 minute under the broiler.  This is the lazy quick way!  If you're absent-minded or prone to burning, toast instead at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the spinach, remove stems, and spin (or pat) dry.  Add the spinach, lemon zest, garlic and walnuts to a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, and sugar; pulse until it's fairly smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Use mixed with pasta--or, if you're too hungry to wait for water to boil, spread the pesto on crackers with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese for the perfect mid-afternoon (or midnight) snack.  Also coming soon... spinach pesto quesadillas.

Unit Cost
Total Cost
1 C walnuts
1/3 lb spinach, flat-leaf
1 lemon
$0.30 each
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 C olive oil
1 t sugar, granulated
Negligible ($0.005)





  1. I've never had walnut pesto before, but I would really love to try it, the photography is beautiful.

  2. Ooh, mel this one is goood! I've subbed in aparagus on sale as well! Keep up the awesome blog!

  3. Mel-- I'm going to go home and try this!!!

    <3 Joyce

  4. Madison: Thanks for the compliment! That means a lot, especially since I consider myself a photoshop n00b.

    Erwin: Asparagus! What a great idea... will have to let you know how that turns out!

    Joyce: Thanks for reading! Let me know how the pesto turned out :)