Spinach, Basil, Walnut Pesto with or without Jalapeno
If you were to google the definition of pesto, you would find the following: ” a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, typically served with pasta.” This is what I intended to make until I realized I was out of pine nuts… And who has time to run out and get them on a random Monday, after all the garlic, basil and oil were already in the blender. So I thought hey, what else do I have?? And Voile, my spinach, jalapeno, walnut pesto was born! This is a simple weeknight take on pesto! The spinach gives it an extra punch of nutrition and the jalapeno adds a nice flavor, remove the seeds to take away the heat or leave them in for an extra kick!
So here is what you need:
2 handfulls of fresh spinach (rinsed)
1 medium jalapeno coarsely chopped. If your family likes a little heat, leave the seeds and all. If you do not, then remove the seeds and membrane. *
¼ cup walnuts
16 basil leaves
3 medium cloves of fresh garlic or 4 large cloves of roasted garlic**
1/2 cup parmesan
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
½ cup pasta water
Salt and pepper to taste.
One pound of your choice of pasta (bowties, cellentani, shells, or your favorite short pasta work well with this recipe!) Pictured here with veggie pasta for a little extra boost of nutrition!
*One jalapeno will generally not make the dish very spicy, in fact most people I have made this for did not even know there was jalapeno in it. To remove any chance of heat the jalapeno can be completely removed from the recipe without further alteration. If you would like extra heat, you can add another jalapeno in which case you would need a few more dashes of olive oil as well.
** see roasted garlic recipe in Tasty Stuff.
3 basil leaves thin sliced
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Here’s what you do:
In food processor or blender, combine spinach, walnuts, basil, jalapeno, garlic and half of the parmesan with half of the olive oil. Pulse until blender/food processor begins to struggle. Add the rest of the olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper and continue to pulse until well blended but still thick.
In a separate pot, boil water and pasta according to directions. Strain pasta quickly when done to avoid over cooking and pasta sticking together.
Add ½ of the pesto to the bottom of your serving bowl and mix in pasta, add the rest of the pesto blend from your blender or food processor. Add half cup of pasta water to the blender or food processor to get all of the pesto goodness! Mix in the rest of the parmesan cheese and stir to blend everything together. Garnish with your shredded basil, parmesan, and black pepper. ENJOY!!