One of our children is a veggie eater and the other is not. The whole family loves pesto, so when I came across this pesto recipe I thought we should give it a try. It substitutes spinach for the basil, and we all know that spinach is quite nutritious. The non veggie eater doesn’t know the difference between basil and spinach leaves, so we gave it a whirl and it was a HUGE success.
In our grocery stores right now basil is quite expensive, and to get enough to make a batch of basil pesto is a bit too spendy for my blood. The spinach is a great substitute in taste, and since it’s significantly cheaper than basil, it’s nice on my wallet.
We added grape tomatoes to the recipe, and you can easily add chicken or keep it vegetarian. Until next summer’s basil season, I have a feeling this will become our winter pesto.
This recipe comes from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles.
- 1/4 c. pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds
- 3 medium garlic cloves with skins on, threaded on a skewer (or no more than 2 cloves if you use raw garlic)
- 2 c. packed fresh spinach, stemmed and washed
- 7 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan Cheese (we use pecorino romano)
- Grape tomatoes, whole or sliced (our addition)
- 1 lb. pasta of your choice
- Toast the nuts in a small pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Lower the skewered garlic into the water and boil for 45 seconds. Immediately run the garlic under cold water. Remove from the skewer; peel and mince. Or skip this step and just throw in 1 or 2 raw garlic cloves, peeled of course.
- Place the nuts, garlic, spinach, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt in the food processor; process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, stir in the cheeses, and adjust the salt.
- Add 1 TBSP salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 c. of the cooking water; drain the pasta and transfer it back to the cooking pot. Mix in 1/4 c. of the reserved cooking water and the pesto; use the additional 1/4 c. cooking water as needed to moisten the sauce. Add tomatoes.
Pasta with Spinach Ricotta Pesto: