Friday, June 25, 2010

Spinach-Arugula Pesto

If you have a food processor, making pesto is a very easy kitchen exercise. It involves throwing the ingredients into the processor and pulsing it into submission. The result is a thick green paste that you can toss with pasta, spread on a loaf of bread, make a dip, and lots more. In my pre-food processor days, I would make it in the blender. It turns out a bit more liquid, but improvising is a cook’s best friend. You can also make it in small batches in one of those wee-little food processors. It just takes a bit of patience. A traditional Italian-style pesto is made with basil and pine nuts. It is beyond delicious and I like making pesto this way, but in honor of stellar play of the US Men’s Soccer team, I am making a decidedly American twist on pesto. I wanted to use up my huge bag of spinach, but spinach just doesn’t have the enough umph to be a proper substitute for basil. To help out the spinach, I added some peppery arugula to give this pesto a little character. To give the texture, I add walnuts, which are almost buttery and complement the spinach and arugula perfectly. The very best part is that I spoon the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they are rock solid, I toss the hardened green blocks into a plastic baggie and stash them in the freezer. A few cubes defrost in no time for a last minute weeknight meal.
Spinach-Arugula Pesto
1 bag spinach (9-10 oz)
1 cup arugula
1 lemon
1/2 cup walnuts
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Water (only if you are making it in a blender. Add a Tbs. or two of water to get it started. You don't want to use all oil because you'd end up with a greasy mess)
1. Smash garlic cloves and fry in 2 Tablespoons of oil for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Toast walnuts in a dry pan on medium high heat for 5-8 minutes until their oils are released and they get lightly brown. They will really start to smell good.
3. Wash spinach and arugula and put in the food processor.
4. Add walnuts, garlic, juice and zest of lemon.
5. Pulse the food processor while you are adding your oil.

6. Add oil until the pesto becomes a creamy paste. Add it slowly and check the consistency after every tablespoon or so. The amount of oil you need depends on lots of things like how juicy your lemon was and the spinach. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.
7. Toss some pesto with your favorite pasta.
8. Spoon the rest of your pesto into ice cube trays and freeze for later use.
Just in case you aren't current on your online Peruvian Newspaper reading, check out my roommates getting ready to cheer on the USA Men's Soccer Team on Wednesday in South Africa.


  1. I was telling my coworker Amanda that I like to mix a cube of the pesto with some yogurt or sour cream and put it out as a dip with veggies. She told me to post that up right away. This is me...following orders :)

  2. I made a spinach-basil pesto last night with sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. It was a hit. And I'll be honest, I would never have thought to make it if not for this specific blog post.

    <3 you Emily.