This Spinach Walnut Pesto is a great winter variation to the traditional pesto when fresh basil is hard to come by. Spinach, toasted walnuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese are pureed until smooth, then slowly mixed with olive oil. I served the pesto as a spread for bread and thinned a bit more out to coat the pasta. I was also pleasantly surprised to find it was a huge hit for both my currently very selective 3 year old along with baby girl.
I used Spartan Oil‘s Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the pesto. Spartan Oil has brought together a group of bloggers this week for their first event, the #EVOOChallenge! I will be featuring recipes highlighting olive oil every day this week. The company was founded by first generation Greek-American, Pericles Konstas, to offer the highest quality extra virgin olive oil to its consumers. The oil has been produced from the family’s ancient olive trees in Sparta, Greece (Lakonia region) for at least twelve generations. The olives are harvested by hand, pressed mechanically within 24 hours of harvest, and the resulting oil is not filtered to preserve the full flavor and nutritional benefits. The olive oil is stored in all natural, non-reactive stoneware bottles to keep the oil at a consistent temperature and prevent light transmission. Using a high quality, flavorful extra virgin olive oil definitely has an impact on the final result of the dish. Check out the hashtag #EVOOChallenge on social media for other great recipes using Olive Oil.
You can toast the walnuts on the stove or in the oven. I tend to use the stove because it is quicker, but you have to be careful it doesn’t burn. To use the oven, spread the walnuts in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees F until fragrant and golden, 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool before adding to the food processor.
The amount of olive oil added depends on how thick you want the sauce. Use less oil for a spread or more to coat the pasta.
The pesto will last in the refrigerator for about 3 days in an airtight container. Cover the top of the pesto in a light layer of olive oil to help keep it green.
Disclaimer: I was given a bottle and refill pouch of Spartan Oil to prepare this recipe. All comments and opinions are my own.
Spinach Walnut Pesto
Adapted from My Life Cookbook
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pasta or bread for serving
In the bowl of a food processor, combine spinach, toasted walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese. Puree until smooth. With the food processor still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, scraping down the sides as needed, until the pesto has reached the desired consistency. Add more olive oil for a sauce, less for a spread.
Serve with pasta, bread, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.