Quick and Tasty Spinach and Basil Pesto

Pesto isn’t just one thing. I think I always thought it was. A straightforward basil pesto was all I knew. Recently a friend mentioned that she had made “all kinds of pesto” this summer and a light bulb just went off in my head. DUH. So I decided to whip up my own variant. Now, obviously I didn’t stray too far from the foundation, but it was the first time I colored outside the pesto lines! And it came out great. I’ve used it on pasta and as a sandwich spread – delicious and so so fast! Two of my favorite “ingredients” – as you know. Anyway, here you go.

* 1 1/2C baby spinach leaves
* 3/4C fresh basil leaves
* 1/2C toasted pine nuts (optional; could also use walnuts, or no nuts if you’re nut-free)
* 1/2C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 4-6 cloves garlic
* 1t salt (Kosher or sea salt preferred, but regular table salt will do just fine)
* 1/2t freshly ground lemon pepper
* 1/2 a large lemon, juiced and zested
* 1/2-3/4C olive oil

In the food processor, blend together the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and approximately 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When it’s well-blended, add olive oil, up to a total of 3/4C depending on smoothness, while the food processor is still on.

When your pesto has achieved the texture of your preference, you are done. And that is the whole she-bang. I do not like my pesto completely smooth, but you may want to keep going. Go slowly with the additional olive oil so that you can reach your desired consistency without over doing it. Use it as you like. It will keep in the fridge as-is for about two weeks. If you want to refrigerate it for longer, just add a little olive oil to the top of the container and it will last longer. It also freezes really well. Boom!

Have you made pesto before? Do you go traditional, or do you mix it up? This successful endeavor makes me want to try all kinds of variations! What about you?

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