Spinach almond pesto, a milder alternative to the classic basil pine nut pesto, is a cinch to make. Toss spinach, roasted almonds, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor and buzz until smooth. Ten minutes and you’re done.
This pesto made, surprisingly, from spinach and almond pesto is every iota as versatile as traditional basil and pine nut pesto. Dollop the less overtly herbaceous pesto atop scrambled eggs, sandwiches, grilled meats, soups, and, natch, pasta. And we’re willing to bet you already have all the ingredients on hand. Rest assured, the amounts in the recipe below are approximates. A little more or less of anything—or everything—won’t make a difference.–Angie Zoobkoff
Spinach Almond Pesto
- 2 cups tightly packed regular or baby spinach leaves
- 1 smallish garlic clove
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped raw or roasted salted almonds
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a food processor, combine the spinach, garlic, almonds or cashews, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
- With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil and continue processing until the mixture is almost smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl of the processor if necessary, for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If not using immediately, cover the pesto and stash it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or transfer it to an ice cube tray or small resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to a few months.)
Spinach Cashew Pesto VariationSimply substitute an equal weight of roasted, salted cashews for the almonds.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This pesto is every bit as versatile and delicious as traditional basil pesto. I made it with roasted, salted cashews as suggested by the author and I loved the slight creaminess the cashews added to the pesto. It came together quickly and has added a bright note to several meals. I did need to stop the food processor and scrape it down once to fully combine everything. Otherwise it only took about 30 seconds of running with the oil being added to fully emulsify. I also found that I needed to add a pinch of salt to round out the flavors. So far it was fantastic on top of scrambled eggs this morning and then it completely elevated a plain bowl of tomato soup at lunch. Looking forward to trying it on a crostini or stirred into pasta.
The pesto was a vibrant green that was absolutely beautiful stirred into pasta that I then tossed with cherry tomato halves and grated Parmesan cheese. The flavor was mild spinach offset by sharp garlic and rich nuts and cheese. I used regular spinach, not baby spinach. I am glad I didn’t use salted almonds in the pesto. I thought it had enough salt from the cheese. Any more salt would have been too much for my taste. I used a rather large garlic clove and I will use a smaller one next time—the garlic was a little too strong for me. I might even try using roasted garlic next time to change the flavor profile just a bit. I can’t wait to use the rest of the pesto as a spread on top of fish or to add flavor and color to a white pizza. I froze the remaining pesto to use at a later date. This pesto will definitely be joining our regular meal rotation.
I love pesto, but hate, hate, hate making it. I have actually stopped making it except on rare occasions. Picking loads and loads of basil leaves off their stems, washing all of those leaves, spinning them dry, rolling them in towels, spreading them out on a sheet pan to dry—I’m tired just talking about it. Oh, how easy this recipe was to make. I opened a bag of the triple-washed baby spinach leaves, washed them in a salad spinner, drained them, and spun them dry. I did lay them out on a towel to dry, but I did this earlier in the day and, though it might sound involved, it definitely wasn’t. My pesto came together quickly and easily. It was a beautiful green. The flavor was bright and fresh. One problem I had was not eating too much of it on my finger so that I would have enough left to do something with it. I used 1 tablespoon pesto for a meatball recipe I was making. I used a nice amount of it on fresh asparagus ravioli made by the people from the farm where we buy our asparagus at the farmers market. Yum, asparagus and Meyer lemon ravioli with this pesto! I froze the rest of the pesto to have with the extra ravioli that are now in our freezer. This is definitely a great alternative to the standard basil pesto without all the work.
So delicious and very fast. I made pasta while I threw all the ingredients in the food processor and my light dinner was done. I added some halved grape tomatoes, scallions, and more Parmesan over it all. I also tried it on pizza, which was equally delicious. My only suggestion would be to add salt and pepper to taste. Otherwise, it was a really good pesto. I have been dipping into it for various things. It’s very versatile.
This recipe is killer and I love that I already had all the ingredients on hand! It’s super tasty and really versatile. I tried it as a dip for crusty bread, a spread on a sandwich, and I also tossed it with spaghetti, feta, and a squeeze of fresh lemon for a light but satisfying pasta dish. I think I have a new go-to pesto recipe!
Originally published April 06, 2018
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Elizabeth and Lena Alvarez
This spinach almond pesto came together in minutes and was bright green, fresh, and delicious. Our testers used crackers to scoop up the pesto as a snack right then and there as soon as I made it. We had a bit left for the next day, which we put on hot rice. We used toasted chopped almonds.