Sometimes I like to step away from traditional recipes and cooking. Wait, who am I kidding!? That’s pretty much what I do majority of the time. My mom recently bought me some groceries (yesss wonderful feeling) and one of the items I had requested was some baby spinach. When I came home from work one day, I was really in the mood for some pesto. As you probably know, pesto does not mean the basil spread you ordinarily see when you order or think of pesto. It literally means “to pound” or “crush.” Therefore, you can turn anything into a pesto.
I didn’t have any basil or pine nuts on hand so I got a little creative. I had fresh spinach, walnuts and obviously had jalapenos, so I decided to combine them. I also wanted to keep it healthy by keeping the olive oil and cheese at a minimum. The combination of spinach and jalapeno has always been a favorite of mine, so I knew this pesto would be yummy. Its also really versatile- can be used as a spread on sandwiches/paninis, as a pasta sauce, as a topper for your entree, with cheese and crackers and more!
Spinach-Jalapeno Walnut Pesto:
- 1 package fresh baby spinach
- 1-2 jalapenos- please adjust to your spice level- cut in 4 pieces
- few walnuts- roasted and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic- crushed
- 1 tbsp or less extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp milk
- parmigiano cheese- grated
1. Using a food processor or a blender, add the spinach, jalapenos, walnuts and garlic. Begin pulsing until roughly chopped and combined. Add half of the water- you just want it to moisten the pesto and not make is watery. If it still seems dry, add the remaining 1/2. Add a splash of the milk to give it a creamy texture. With the blender on low-medium, drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of the olive oil. Blend until smooth and combined and resembles the consistency of basil pesto. Remove from the blender and mix in parmigiana cheese, salt and pepper.
2. Add to freshly boiled pasta with a little bit of pasta water and mix. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and parmigiano cheese.
3. Spread o a baguette or ciabatta and top with your favorite veggie burger, grilled veggies, tofu or “chicken” patty for a yummy sandwich.
4. Make a restaurant-style Italian entree: grill up some eggplant and roasted pepper and layer the veggie with pesto and parmigiana cheese. Drizzle with reduced balsamic glaze and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crusty bread and/or polenta.
Makes about 1-2 cups
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