Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fresh Spinach "pesto" (and what to do with it)

 I was in the mood for pesto last week.  Two problems, though.  My wee little basil plants had maybe a cup of leaves between the four of them, and pinenuts happen to be insanely expensive at the moment.  So I started rooting around in my fridge and came up with a faux pesto.  My sister is an avid gardener and gave me some garlic scapes a couple days prior, so I incorporated them in to the recipe with excellent results.  I'm assuming that most of the rest of you don't have garlic growing in your garden, so use regular fresh garlic cloves instead.  Garlic scapes grow out of the middle of young garlic plants and need to be trimmed off or else the garlic bulb growth will be stunted.  They have a firm stalk and pleasantly mild garlic flavor, perfect for this particular recipe.

Fresh Spinach Pesto

1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
2 ounces freshly shredded parmesan or romano cheese
1 large garlic scape, chopped OR 2-3 large cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for about 5 minutes, until they just begin to turn lightly brown and smell fragrant.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Then layer the nuts, spinach, cheese and garlic in a blender or food processor.  Drizzle in enough oil to allow easy blending but not soupiness (about 1/4-1/3 cup), and pulse the blender or food processor several times until everything is finely chopped and well blended but still has some texture.  Add kosher salt and coarse pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to eat.

 Besides eating the spinach pesto with a spoon right out of the food processor because it's so delicious, you can toss it together with pasta, grilled chicken and grilled veggies.  Absolutely delicious!  And you know what?   My kids had no clue they were eating so much spinach!  It's not something that they readily eat, but they do like regular basil pesto and they didn't notice the difference because I stirred in a handful of julienned basil leaves too to add that flavor in.

To make this dish, I doused two chicken breasts, a couple of cups of grape tomatoes, and two red peppers that were quartered and cored in balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I like Newman's Own brand when I'm too lazy to make a batch myself.  I grilled the chicken, basting it with more dressing a couple of times during cooking, and added the peppers to the grill skin side down for the last 5 or so minutes of grill time.  Meanwhile, I cooked up half a package of linguine.  Once the chicken and peppers were done, I removed them to cut into thin slices, then dumped the tomatoes on to the hot grill.  They softened up within 30 seconds and got a few nice little char marks.  I removed them right away.  I drained, then dumped the pasta into a large serving bowl, stirred the pesto in thoroughly, then added the tomatoes, peppers, chicken and a handful of julienned basil leaves and carefully stirred it all together.  I finished it off with a dusting of finely shredded parmesan cheese and it was a delicious summertime supper that everyone devoured (except for my almost 4 year old, but her opinion doesn't count on these sorts of things).


Lizzy Mae said...

Patti- Oh wow, let's be best friends, I LOVE pesto! A pesto cupcake is probably not the best choice, but I can dream can't I? Also, where did you buy your 5 tier cupcake stand?
-Your Cup of Cake

autovit said...

Oh my God this looks so good and i`m sure that it is delicious too. I think it is not a very difficult recipe so i will give it a try, thanks a lot for sharing.

plastic card said...

PCB is great for you

Sam said...

I just found this as I was surfing and I absolutely love the recipe for spinich pesto, Im going to make it myself!! thanks for posting it!