Pesto has long been appreciated for its bold, refreshing flavors and rich green color, typically achieved through a combination of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. However, due to seasonal availability and cost considerations, basil, the primary ingredient, can sometimes be challenging to obtain affordably. But fear not because spinach is a budget-friendly alternative you can use without compromising the taste and quality of this herbaceous sauce.
Using spinach instead of basil offers a fresh and slightly milder taste to the pesto, which can be viewed as an advantage because it allows the rich flavors of the garlic, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts to shine through. Spinach maintains a vibrant green color that's visually appealing, and this herb is packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to your meals.
When purchasing spinach for your pesto recipe, consider going for baby spinach, as it is usually tender and has a somewhat sweeter taste than mature spinach. However, if you prefer a bit of crunch in your greens, then the mature variety is the better option.
Making Pesto Using Spinach
The process of making pesto with spinach is similar to that of using basil. Start with fresh, clean spinach leaves, ensuring they are thoroughly dried to prevent water from diluting the pesto. If you still desire a hint of basil, combine the spinach with a smaller portion of basil leaves. Otherwise, using spinach only or incorporating another herb of your choice also works great. Now add the spinach, garlic, nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a food processor and puree for a few minutes until you get your desired consistency. With that, your pesto is ready to serve. You can also store your pesto for later use in the refrigerator by packing it in an airtight container and covering it with olive oil.
The best thing about this condiment is its flexibility. Apart from substituting basil with spinach, you can also use other nuts like walnuts or almonds instead of the classic pine nuts. It's also easy to experiment with different flavor profiles by substituting parmesan cheese in your pesto recipe with other cheese varieties like cotija and Manchego. And lastly, feel free to adjust the quantities of each ingredient to suit your preference for consistency and flavor intensity.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.