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Spinach, Lemon Basil, Walnut Pesto

July 10, 2011

Walnut Pesto

After a successful trip to Clark’s Elioak Farm Stand last week, I left with a variety of fresh herbs (lemon basil and regular basil being my summer favorites). I’ve mainly been adding the freshly chopped herbs to all my salads, pastas, and pizzas through out the week, but it seems as if my basket of basil is like the bottomless pan of lasagna in Garfield’s dreams (which I am totally not complaining about). I didn’t want the rest of the basil to go to waste, so I decided to make pesto which can be saved and used later as a dressing, marinade, sandwich spread, or sauce.

Traditionally pesto is made with pine nuts, basil, freshly grated cheese and oil. I didn’t have pine nuts or cheese but I did have a Costco sized bag of walnuts and spinach. I thought I would make do with what I had; I substituted the pine nuts with lightly toasted walnuts which added toasty/nutty flavor and the spinach gave it a thicker consistency and balanced out the heavy basil flavor. I used two kinds of basil, regular basil and lemon basil which added an extra kick of citrus to the sauce.

This pesto sauce will have a thicker consistency than the pesto sauce you see at your local grocery store or at wholefoods, where the oil separates from the herbs when you let it sit. The spinach soaks up most of the oil, and turns the sauce into more of a pesto paste. If you find that the sauce is a little too thick add a little lemon juice. You can most definitely use it as a pasta sauce, I actually find that the thicker consistency makes the pasta less oily. It’s also perfect substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza.

I decided to use it as a sandwich spread for a quick turkey and tomato sandwich for lunch and save the rest of it in a jar to use later in the week. I spread the pesto on two slices of bread, added a few slices of tomatoes and cold turkey sandwich meat and made it into a panini by putting it between a hot sandwich press. The pesto really brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes and tempered its acidity, and it gave the sandwich extra moistness since I had pretty dry turkey meat. I’ll admit I’m pretty stoked for the rest of my week now!!

Cheers & until next time,
Happy Mid-July!

Walnut Pesto Ingredients

Spinach, Lemon Basil, Walnut Pesto
adapted from Sunny Vegan
Makes 4 Cups

1 cup       toasted walnuts
6 cups     packed spinach (stems removed)
½ cup     packed fresh lemon basil
2 cups     packed fresh basil
2 cups     olive oil
1 teasp     chopped garlic
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon

1. Pulse walnuts and garlic in food processor.
2. Working in batches, add spinach and basil and blend together. Repeat until you have blended all the spinach and basil.
3. With the food processor on, slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend well. Add remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Note: To freeze for later use.
Pour into ice cube tray and freeze. Remove from ice tray and put into a zip lock bag, i can last up to 4 months.

Printable Recipe

Turkey Sandiwch with Walnut Pesto

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2011 10:38 pm

    Yum! Love the color of this and it looks so delicious! I love pesto but I really want to try adding spinach to mine next time. I’m going to bookmark this to try when I have enough basil 🙂

    • July 11, 2011 10:46 pm

      Good thing basil grows rather quickly!

  2. July 12, 2011 9:40 pm

    Great take on pesto. I am incredibly impressed with the photography. If you want to try my version, check it out. But, great blog! Oh, and btw – what type of lighting do you use?

    • July 13, 2011 6:58 am

      I am definitely going to try your recipe out, I love pistachios and I’m sure the arugula is going to add a nice peppery flavor to the pesto sauce. I try to shoot during the day so I can use natural lighting, I find that it’s the best source of light to work with.

  3. Bunny Eats Design permalink
    July 19, 2011 6:20 am

    That colour is amazing! Part of me thinks it looks like a crazy toxic green, but I know it’s actually an all goodness green.

  4. July 22, 2011 4:42 pm

    Found you on foodgawker! This looks delicious, and I will definitely have to try it.

  5. June 1, 2012 3:55 am

    thank you for a GREAT recipe!!! I´ve tried it and I was really impressed!!!
    the funny part is that I´ve also found a very similar glass like yours, so my pesto looks completely the same :-DDD

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