Spinach basil pesto is a must-have staple for any pasta lover looking to incorporate more vegetables into their weekly menu. A great way to use fresh greens, this vegan spinach pesto with walnuts is so refreshingly delicious that even your pickiest eater will be begging for more.
It’s 2 p.m., you pull open the fridge looking for a quick snack, but then you go through the mental tug-of-war that decides between healthy and hungry. While a slice of cold pizza may sate your cravings in the short-term, opting for a healthy snack filled with protein and vitamins will give you the push you need to make it through the rest of your day.
Personally, I often struggle to meet my nutrients quota, especially when I remember that as an adult (and a mom and a woman and an overall busy human) I need to be eating at least 2- 3 cups of vegetables each day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). So how do I close the gap? By finding ways to incorporate my greens in everyday dishes.
One way to help boost your veggie intake without completing throwing out your weekly menu or dinner routine is to make a nutrient-packed pesto with spinach and walnuts to give you an extra boost of protein. This quick and easy pesto can be added to almost anything and is sure to help curb that snack craving without derailing your diet.
Ingredients for Spinach Basil Pesto
The key to your ingredients for spinach and basil pesto is simple: Keep it fresh — fresh herbs, fresh greens, fresh flavors! This is such a delicious and healthy recipe, so pack it full of the freshness you deserve and avoid as many frozen or processed ingredients as you can.
Spinach and Basil
Traditional pestos include pine nuts and basil only, but my recipe actually calls for ⅓ basil and ⅔ fresh spinach leaves, so it’s important that you have plenty of these fresh leafy greens on hand.
If you prefer pine nuts, almonds, or another topping, you can always substitute out the walnuts. Additionally, if you have a nut allergy in your household, you can leave the nut ingredient out altogether and still enjoy the pesto.
Zest and Spice
Turn up the mouthwatering flavors of your homemade pesto by adding lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes while blending.
How to make Spinach Basil Pesto
Step 1. I started this recipe by toasting the walnuts. Grab a small skillet and bring to medium-low heat on the stove. Add in your oil, and when hot, pour in the walnuts. Stir for about 3-5 minutes, or until the walnuts are lightly browned and fragrant.
Step 2. Next, it’s time to blend the spinach basil pesto together. In a food processor, add fresh basil, spinach, toasted walnuts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup water. Puree all of the pesto ingredients until the mixture is smooth — it’s important to make sure you have no chunks left in the pesto!
Step 3. And that’s it! Now you have a healthy, tasty, and refreshing spinach basil pesto ready to go. Now what? Here are some of my favorite, super simple dishes that include pesto to give you some foodie inspiration:
- Homemade pizza with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes
- Pasta like gnocchi or spaghetti with bacon
- Asparagus Pizza with pesto
- Sous vide chicken tenders
- Salads with pine nuts
Feel free to get creative with your application of this homemade pesto and try something new!
Check out these seasonal foods for spring cooking for some fresh ideas!
Do I really need a food processor?
You could use a mortar and pestle or other kinds of blending appliances if you do not have a processor. That being said, with this spinach and basil pesto recipe in particular, it really is much easier to use a good food processor with a little more oomph.
Can I use canned or frozen veggies?
Technically, yes, but I would not recommend! Not only will you taste the difference in your pesto, but fresher ingredients pack more nutrients than old or cooked ingredients. Avoid the urge to buy pre-made or processed foods as much as possible.
Add big flavor with DIY condiments
- Creamy peppercorn sauce
- Amp up Alfredo sauce from a jar
- Jalapeno ranch dressing
- Tomato sauce from crushed tomatoes
- Cilantro lime dressing
- Marinate chicken breasts in balsamic dressing
- Sous vide steak marinade
- Sous vide chicken breast marinade
Are you a foodie, too?
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Find new ways to enjoy your favorite food with sous vide cooking. Get inspired with my new book – The Home Chef’s Sous Vide Cookbook.
Spinach Basil Pesto
- Food processor
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 cup basil fresh
- 4 cups spinach fresh
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup water
- Toast the walnuts. Bring a small skillet on the stove to medium-low heat. Stir for about 3-5 minutes until walnuts are lightly browned and fragrant.
- Blend the spinach basil pesto. Add fresh basil, spinach, toasted walnuts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup water to a food processor.
- Puree pesto ingredients until smooth.
- Do I really need a food processor? You could use a mortar and pestle or other kinds of blending appliances if you do not have a processor. That being said, with this spinach and basil pesto recipe in particular, it really is much easier to use a good food processor with a little more oomph.
- Can I use canned or frozen veggies? Technically, yes, but I would not recommend! Not only will you taste the difference in your pesto, but fresher ingredients pack more nutrients than old or cooked ingredients. Avoid the urge to buy pre-made or processed foods as much as possible.