Pesto Reinterpreted: Five-Minutes to Bliss

I’m having a love affair with an old darling of mine: spinach pesto! I used to always have it on hand when I cooked at my old restaurant, Goldie’s by the Bridge, where it was handy in countless ways.

Recently, I made a batch utilizing the modern conveniences NYC supermarkets offer: prewashed baby spinach and roasted garlic from the olive bar. This versatile deliciousness takes 5 minutes to make, and the payoff is huge.

Spin that grit away!

The step that takes the longest, believe it or not, is rinsing the baby spinach. There IS controversy over this practice, but I make it easy for myself. I loosely pack the spinach into the inner sieve bowl of a salad spinner. I immerse the basket into the outer bowl, which is filled with water. As the walnuts toast in the pan, I shred the parmesan block. Then I lift the basket of spinach out of the water, dump the water and spin away. The additional rinse might seem like overkill, but it’s worth it alone to avoid the grit that every-so-often remains in prewashed spinach. I look at it this way: it sure beats the three soak cycle necessary for green leafy veggies!

Spinach Pesto:

1lb baby spinach

2-3 oz parmesan, fine shred

2-3 oz walnuts, toasted until just fragrant

3-4 cloves roasted garlic OR 1 clove garlic, minced

Olive oil

A shake of hot pepper flakes

Salt to taste

Walnuts in Food Processor

An essential tool for creating magic

In a food processor, grind walnuts, parmesan and garlic until walnuts are pebble size. Pack spinach into the bowl and with the machine running, add in olive oil in a slow stream until the spinach starts to get pulled down into the blade. Continue with spinach and oil until desired consistency. You can go easier on the grinding, and have a ‘country style’ spread. You can go heavier on the oil and create a paste. You could go crazy on the oil, add vinegar, and end up with a salad dressing. Or, you can add milk or half & half and yield a dip.

Stay tuned for what I’m using this pesto for; here are some teasers to make your mouth water:

-Spinach pesto pasta fagioli: ‘nuff said!

-Avocado, Serrano ham, fresh mozzarella & spinach pesto on toasted whole wheat bread anyone?

Spinach Pesto Pasta

Fusilli pasta is ideal for pesto cling. A scoop of ricotta and a dollop of EVO add decadence.

Whole wheat pasta with spinach pesto cream sauce: top with homemade ricotta cheese and indulge.


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