Spinach Almond Pesto

October 11, 2010

I was looking for an efficient way to use up a bunch of spinach and remembered hearing about using spinach in pesto instead of basil. I also remembered reading, not too long ago, that pine nuts go rancid quickly. I can’t remember when I bought my industrial-sized Costco bag of pine nuts. I opened my cabinet and was relieved to see all my little pine nuts, looking good. And then I saw the expiration date. November 10, 2009.

2009? I can promise you I have used these much more recently than November 10, 2009. I had a fleeting moment of, Well they certainly look fine. But Will and I watched the pilot episode of Hoarders not too long ago, where an elderly woman hoards, of all things, food. I won’t elaborate further since you should only be subjected to this story by free will, but I will say that if you ever want to get your butt in gear to do some spring cleaning, watch Hoarders. I can promise you, you will be throwing things out faster than you can say “OCD.” Into the trashcan went the pine nuts.

So I decided to try this pesto with almonds. I thought I’d seen pesto with almonds before, and I had some on hand.  A great way to use some pesto now and save some for later is to freeze part of the pesto in ice cube trays. Pop them into a plastic bag for storage. 1 or 2 of these pesto cubes gives you a single serving of pesto, on the spot. And yes, I do own heart shaped ice cube trays. It was an impulse buy. In hindsight, I should have got the penguins.

This pesto tastes, well, a lot like spinach. And not much else. I wonder if pine nuts would have given it a creamier or more complex taste. It’s definitely not bad, and I will use it as a quick dinner on pasta or over chicken or as a sandwich spread, but it’s just not very exciting. But the giant bag of bright green hearts in my freezer is a good conversation starter, at the very least.

More on spinach: Spinach, Strawberry, and Goat Cheese Salad, Spinach Pie, Spinach Quiche.

More on pesto: Unconstructed Garlic Scape Pesto

What I’m Reading:

SPINACH ALMOND PESTO (adapted liberally from Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto by Giada de Laurentis)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Recipe

Combine the spinach, almonds, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Put half of the pesto into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for future use.

Transfer the rest of the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

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