Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Basil and Spinach Pesto

This year I’m growing basil in my backyard. I have yet to figure out how to freeze fresh basil without it turning black from freezer burn, so instead I’m making several batches of pesto which will freeze better.
I started harvesting my basil three months ago. Within two weeks of picking the leaves, the basil plants were even bigger and leafier.
Basil pesto is super easy to make and can be used in so many different ways. Mix it with any kind of pasta or spread it on sliced toasted french bread as a base for bruschetta. You can also dollop some on top of baked potatoes or make a pesto pizza.
In this recipe I added spinach to increase the volume, without affecting the taste. Use 1 part spinach for every 2 parts basil.

2 cups basil leaves, packed
1 cup spinach leaves, packed (Optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts
3 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan, stirring constantly, toast the pine nuts and walnuts until they turn golden brown.
Add the basil and spinach leaves to a food processor along with the nuts and garlic. Pulse a few times till well combined. Add the cheese and pulse. Slowly add the oil until it’s completely absorbed, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Update (2011-11-12):
A great way to store the pesto for quick and easy re-use is to freeze it in ice-cube trays. When the pesto has frozen completely, empty the pesto cubes into a ziplock bag and return to the freezer. Now you can quickly access the pesto when you need it. I found that mixing the frozen cubes with the pasta just after its been drained and still hot, allows it to melt and coat all the pasta. 1 cube per person seems to work for me, but you may like more pesto with your pasta.

Now I can enjoy pesto all winter, long after the summer growing season has ended.

Photograph by Michael Findley


  1. Looks so good I want to grab a spoon and dig in!

  2. wonderful update! Great idea with the ice cube trays!

  3. Can I drop by a pickup some of those cubes Michael. My mouth is watering :)