The word ‘pesto’ earns its moniker from the Genoese word ‘pestâ’, which means ‘to pound’ or ‘crush’. Traditionally, all of the ingredients for pesto were ground in a marble mortar, so, strictly speaking, pesto can refer to any sauce made by grinding together ingredients. With this in mind, we implore you to try our creamy spinach and walnut pesto, a nuttier take of the traditional dish.
Nutritious and unmistakably fresh in flavour, spinach is one of the most popular leafy greens, consumed worldwide. There are two main varieties of spinach consumed in Italy: the mild Merlo Nero, and leafy Viroflay - both of which are commonly enjoyed in Italian cuisine (the classic pairing of spinach and ricotta springs to mind…). You may notice spinach dishes in Italy are often referred to as ‘Florentine’ - this is in honour of Catherine de Medici of Florentine, who was said to love the leafy, iron-rich green. We honour spinaci (spinach) in this vibrant pesto recipe, that is perfect atop a bed of trofie or tagliatelle.
Our creamy walnut & spinach pesto recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 254 kcal per serving (excludes pasta)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 1 cup basil, cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Pestle and mortar
Chef’s tip: If you don’t have a pestle and mortar at home, you can use a food processor. We like a pesto that has a slightly rustic texture so be sure not to over grind.
- Begin by gently toasting the walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Keep moving the walnuts to prevent burning - you’ll know they’re ready once fragrant and nutty in aroma.
- Put the spinach, basil, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, minced garlic, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil to a pestle and mortar and grind until creamy. You may need to do this gradually, but the spinach will eventually break down.
- Gradually add the walnuts, and continue to grind until they begin to break down and combine with the mixture. You should have a creamy yet slightly chunky consistency.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil and continue to grind until you have a creamy paste. We recommend leaving it a little rustic as this will help it adhere to the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine.
- The pesto is best eaten straight away, but can be kept in clean mason jars and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For more delicious pesto recipes - such as our fan-favourite pistachio pesto - be sure to browse our blog. Don’t forget to share your creations and tag us on social media with #pastaevangelists. Let us know what you thought of this recipe by leaving a comment below.
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