A great way to keep a batch of fresh spinach from going bad? With a homemade spinach pesto recipe. A delicious, easy, and fast recipe for pesto that the whole family will love!
This homemade spinach pesto recipe is easy to make without basil, packed full of healthiness, and looks oh so pretty! One recipe lasts for a while (depending on what you use it for) and is a great way to use spinach that is on its way past prime. Or fresh herbs? It is an absolutely fantastic way to use herbs. Yum! Nothing better! You can replace the spinach with basil or other herbs and use it for months. Try my collard greens and olive pesto recipe for a fun twist or the traditional and always loved Basil Pesto.
Pine nuts are often less expensive and gentler in flavor than other nuts making them fantastic for pesto recipes. But walnuts are another favorite. Heck try using anything you have and see how you like it.
Toasting nuts brings out their nutty and warm flavor but isn't necessary for pesto. Try making pesto with and without toasting the nuts to see if you notice and appreciate the difference. If not, why bother?
If you don't have a food processor you can old-school it like Italian grandmother's did back in the day...chopping. Sure, it takes longer. Sure, it's tedious. BUT it also makes for EVEN. BETTER. PESTO. I dare anyone to say it doesn't. Set to work finely chopping the spinach and you'll have a delicious batch of pesto in a short time.
I began making this spinach pesto recipe when my kids were a bit younger and selling me produce from their garden. I had made the mistake of telling them that if they grew veggies and herbs that I would buy them from them instead of my usual vendors at the Farmer's Market. Oh did they run with that!
I loved that their little garden encouraged them to be outside as often as possible. They were learning how to garden, economics, and getting all kinds of sunshine and vitamins at the same time.
They learned early on that lettuces and herbs were amongst the easiest to grow and weed. And, of course, that they matured the fastest. Fast harvests meant money came to them faster. At 5 and 10, they were all about the quick wins.
How do you make pesto less bitter?
This is a common complaint from people that don't like pesto. They find it far too bitter. Using spinach is a great way to help with that problem! Also, think about adding more cheese and garlic to mellow out the bitterness even more.
Olive oil needs a bit of acid mixed with it to help counteract the natural bitterness of olive oil. Don't skip the lemon juice in this recipe. If you prefer, you could try using red wine or balsamic vinegar.
I found that this pesto recipe was a great way to use the spinach and herbs especially if they weren't the freshest, that would keep longer and give us a bit of variety from salads.
This pesto tastes delicious on homemade pasta or even toasted bread -- delicious-o!
--Ask them to find the veggies in the produce department. Ask them the difference between the basil and the cilantro. Can they smell it?
--Kids love pouring oil into the food processor. Measure it out and let them pour it down the chute.
--Buttons...if you have kids you should never be pushing the buttons on the processor or blender yourself. Always. Let. Kids. Push. Buttons.
--Pesto can be adapted so easily to what you have on hand or your family prefers. Ask for kids help deciding between pine nuts or walnuts. Or parmesan or asiago cheeses.
This pesto is fantastic for winter months when fresh spinach is easily found in the produce department. In spring, your farmer's market most likely has an abundance of fresh spinach that will be absolutely beautiful!
You can substitute garlic powder for fresh garlic, if needed. Fresh garlic is always best in pesto but feel free to swap in powder, in a pinch.
If you like that squat jar in the first photo (I use those for everything!), you might like this one. It's pretty similar, although you can also get similar jars at a big box store.
How long does homemade pesto last?
I wouldn't try to keep it longer than about 5 days, in the fridge. But it freezes for several months! I make a batch and stash some in the freezer.
Can you make pesto with dried basil?
Surprisingly I get this question quite often. My answer is always...why would you want to? The answer is no, not really. Homemade pesto requires fresh ingredients as the main ingredient. Fresh basil is needed for good pesto. Or, in the case of this recipe, spinach.
homemade Spinach Pesto recipe
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil you can skip this, if you like!
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Put spinach, garlic, basil, and a bit of the oil into a food processor.
- Process until itty bitty.
- Add remaining ingredients and process until itty bitty again.
- I like to add a bit of Parmesan to the finished pesto and stir it in.
- Add a bit of oil to the top of the jar to keep it fresh while storing.
- Store in fridge.
Other delicious recipes to make good use of fresh herbs and greens from the garden...
Puff Pastry Tomato Tart || This is sooo easy and delicious. Fresh tomatoes and basil are the stars of this easy and gorgeous appetizer.
easy Pesto Christmas Trees || Use prepared dough to make these little Christmas trees with pesto (probably the pesto from above ?!?)
Rosemary Lemon Ginger Gin Cocktail || Making a simple syrup from my favorite herb and using it in a cocktail is my ultimate favorite way to use fresh herbs. Soooo good! This is one of my faves.