Homemade Fresh Baby Spinach Pesto Without Basil is one of the simplest sauces you can make. You only need a few common ingredients.
This simple recipe for fresh spinach pesto sauce goes great with pasta, chicken, shrimp, veggies, sandwiches, and more!
It tastes especially great on this shrimp pesto flatbread pizza, this pesto chicken quinoa bowl, these mushroom and pesto stuffed shells, or shrimp pesto pasta.
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Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Homemade pesto is so flexible and is the perfect recipe for using up extra greens. Feel free to substitute your favorite herbs or leafy greens for some of the spinach. You can also add your favorite nut or seed.
- This easy pesto recipe tastes great tossed with pasta and roasted vegetables or try serving it on toast with some sliced tomatoes.
- Traditional basil pesto is made with just fresh basil. But I prefer this basil-free pesto. Spinach is cheaper than buying lots of basil leaves which makes this pesto budget-friendly. Plus spinach gives this pesto a fresh pretty vibrant green color.
Looking for other delicious substitutes for basil in pesto?
Olive Oil: I recommend using extra-virgin olive oil because of its milder flavor. Save the regular olive oil for dishes that are cooked.
Parmesan Cheese: If you don't have Parmesan you could substitute another hard dry cheese like Romano. If you can buy block cheese and grate it yourself. The flavor will be fresher. Avoid the powdered parmesan cheese that comes in a green can.
Garlic: I prefer fresh garlic cloves especially because they can go into the blender whole and I don't have to chop them but you could also use jarred minced garlic.
Nuts: Traditionally pesto is made with pine nuts. But they can be expensive and are not something I keep in my pantry. Pretty much any nut will work, use whatever you have in your pantry. You make this pesto with walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or my favorite cashews. If someone has nut allergies try substituting sunflower seeds for the nuts.
Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest: Lemon juice's acid helps to brighten the pesto's flavor. You could also try substituting three tablespoons of balsamic or apple cider vinegar.
Spinach: Fresh spinach leaves work best. I wouldn't recommend using frozen spinach. To change the pesto's flavor try adding other greens like fresh herbs, tender kale, or arugula.
Salad Spinner: Salad spinners make quick work of washing a drying a variety of leafy vegetables and herbs.
Blender or Food Processor: Easily puree the spinach and the rest of the ingredients. If you don't have either a blender or food processor you could also use a stick blender.
Rubber spatula: For folding batters together and scraping the sides of bowls, I prefer a stiffer spatula like this one from OXO. It fits comfortably in my hand, is dishwasher safe, and is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the handle and head are silicone coated which makes it easy to clean and safe to use with my non-stick cookware and bakeware.
Rinse the spinach really well under cold water. Pat dry or use a salad spinner to spin the spinach dry.
Add the oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender, and puree until a paste is formed. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if necessary.
Add the spinach and blend for as short a time as possible to maintain its color.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Note: For a thinner pesto add a bit more olive oil.
Ready to serve your pesto? Here are the Best Pastas For Pesto.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for about five days. Pour pesto into an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.
It can also be frozen for up to three months. Pour any unused pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once the pesto has frozen place the pesto cubes in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. I really like these silicon ice cube trays. They are flexible which makes removing the cubes easier.
I haven't tried it so I can't recommend it. If you do decide to use frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach, be sure to drain it really well. The extra moisture will make your pesto too soupy.
Yes, but fresh lemon is ideal because you can use some of the zest as well.
Pesto turns brown when the pureed spinach comes into contact with oxygen and begins to oxidize. To prevent browning float a little olive oil over the top of the pesto. This creates an airtight seal and will prevent the pesto from turning brown.
If you mean the powdered Parmesan found in those green shakers on a pantry shelf, no. Your pesto won't taste as good plus there are a bunch of additives in powdered Parmesan.
If you mean the tubs of freshly grated Parmesan cheese in the refrigerated section of the grocery store yes.
Spinach is sweeter than basil which is typically used to make pesto. If your pesto still tastes bitter try adding a pinch of sugar.
Pro Tip: Parmesan cheese freezes really well. If you don't use Parmesan very often buy a wedge, grate all of it and use what you need. Freeze the remaining grated Parmesan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once the Parmesan has frozen, place it in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. The next time you need Parmesan you can portion out the amount you need. Parmesan cheese can be frozen for up to a year. For more information about freezing Parmesan read this post from Can You Freeze This?
- Toasting the nuts before adding them to the pesto brings out their nutty flavor but isn't necessary.
- Increase pesto's flavor by adding a couple of roasted red peppers, charred jalapeno, or sun-dried tomatoes to this delicious recipe.
- Add more or less olive oil based on your personal texture preference. If you prefer a more paste-like consistency add less olive oil. If you prefer a looser more sauce-like pesto add more olive oil.
- Pesto freezes really well. Pour any unused pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once the pesto has frozen place the frozen cubes in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. Pesto can be frozen for up to three months. I really like these silicon ice cube trays. They are flexible which makes removing the cubes easier.
Homemade spinach pesto is very customizable. To change the pesto's flavor try adding other greens like fresh herbs, carrot tops, tender kale, or arugula.
Pretty much any nut will work, use any of your favorite nuts. You make this pesto with walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or my favorite cashews.
For a nut-free pesto sauce recipe try substituting sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds for the nuts.
- Pesto is a versatile sauce. Tossing pesto with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, and chicken is my favorite way to create a quick dinner.
- Use this delicious spinach pesto as a pizza sauce for homemade pizza.
- Spread it on toast with sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt.
- Stir some into your favorite pasta salad.
- Use homemade pesto sauce as a salad dressing.
- Mix with sour cream to create a dip.
- Stir into mashed potatoes instead of using butter.
- Use it as a sauce for steak or grilled chicken.
More Sauce Recipes
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