Spinach Pesto
Yield: ~1⅓ cups
This versatile sauce adds fresh flavor and healthful appeal to a wide variety of basic ingredients, elevating simple meals with ease. It's especially convenient in the colder months, when the more traditionally used basil is not abundant-and the color stays green!


  • 3 cups firmly packed spinach (4 to 4½ ounces)
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) chopped pecans or walnuts (or a mix*)
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) finely grated gruyere (could use asiago, Parmesan, or a mix)
  • 1½ tablespoon (22ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice**
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (could use 3 if small)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and several turns of the pepper mill
  • ⅓ cup (75ml) olive oil


  1. Add the spinach, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is chopped but still somewhat chunky. Scrape down the sides, and then turn the processor on and drizzle the oil through the feed tube. (I like to use just enough oil to make a spreadable pesto. If you prefer a thinner pesto you may add additional oil.) Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Tip: When you remove the pesto from the processor, stir in any lemon juice or residual olive oil that may have seeped under the blade.

    At this point the pesto is ready, but it may be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use, and the flavor will improve over time. The pesto freezes well, too.


*I don’t bother to toast the nuts (although you can) as I’ve done comparisons and it’s hard to discern a difference. I’ve also mixed up the nuts, using what I have on hand, from salted roasted cashews to a combination of nuts and seeds.

**I initially used 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in this recipe and bumped it up a bit. You may start with one and add to taste if you’re not sure. Those who really enjoy the bright flavor may enjoy a full 2 tablespoons. (Note that the flavors will mellow and meld as the pesto sits.)

For a slightly different flavor, you could replace 1 cup of the spinach with basil-or even try half spinach, half kale.

A pinch of red pepper flakes offers a lovely addition.

The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week and freezes very well. Spinach pesto also browns far more slowly than basil pesto, so it continues to look (and taste) vibrant for longer than you may expect.

Thicker pesto works well as a spread. As mentioned above, you may add more oil if desired. However, if you’d like to thin the pesto for other uses, pasta cooking water works especially well, as does chicken or vegetable broth, a bit of white wine, or even plain water. (Tip: hot liquid is easier to stir in when pesto is cold.) When thinning with water, you may wish to add an extra pinch or two of salt, to taste.

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