Fresh, simple, and delicious; a perfect weeknight dinner option. That’s what comes to mind when I think of a pesto.
And between the herbaceous rich flavor and its healthy fats, it remains a steadfast household favorite.
So you might be wondering about the title or what makes this a “poor man’s pesto”. The answer to that is that for this particular recipe I’m using walnuts in place of pine nuts (I don’t know about you, but I find pine nuts to be rather expensive!)
💕Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- It is clean-eating and gluten free.
- It is vegetarian-friendly and keto-diet friendly.
- It is uses minimal fresh ingredients.
- It is incredibly easy to make and takes just a few minutes to throw together (perfect for busy weeknights!).
- It freezes beautifully for future use.
- You can season and customize your recipe to suit your personal taste.
To make our pesto we’re going to be using the following ingredients:
- Fresh sweet basil: This is the foundation of our pesto and where most of the flavor and body will come from
- Fresh baby spinach: I like adding in some spinach to help mellow out the powerful basil flavor, plus hidden veggies!!
- Extra light olive oil: This is the liquid that will help your pesto achieve the desired texture and the oil serves to help your basil retain that bright green color
- Cheese: You can also use Parmesan, Pecorino Romano or even Asiago if you prefer. Whichever cheese you opt for, just be sure it’s a hard, salty cheese.
- Nuts: Pine nuts are the traditional option for pestos but given the price point you can opt to use more affordable options such as walnuts or even cashews! A great tip is to lightly toast your nuts in a skillet to enhance the depth of flavor.
- Garlic: This herb adds a wonderful and herbaceously spicy bite to the pesto.
- Salt: Being used in conjunction with your cheese, opt for a pink Himalayan or a sea salt.
- Black pepper: A healthy dose of ground black pepper adds great spice and a sharp earthiness to your pesto.
- Oregano: Fresh or dried, oregano’s pungent, earthy aromatics are a great complement to the pesto’s star player, the basil.
Speaking of spices and herbs, your pesto isn’t limited to just the above ingredients! Consider adding in the following if you have them on hand:
- Roasted Red Peppers.
Just be sure that you don’t mix in too many strong flavors at once to your pesto, after all, you still want the basil to be the star!
Making your pesto is as simple as adding all your ingredients to a food processor and breaking them down. Now, you can do it one of two ways:
- You can throw everything in all at once and pulse it until smooth.
- You can add all your ingredients into the processor with the exception of the oil which you will then stream in slowly while running your processor.
The choice is yours, and to be honest I haven’t noticed a difference in flavor doing it one way or the other.
The end result however you choose to make it is undoubtedly going to be a bowl of deliciousness that is just waiting to be used to its full potential.
Here are some ideas that you can use your pesto for and in:
- Toss some country fried potatoes in your pesto (pictured above).
- Serve with prepared whole wheat pasta.
- Or use to to coat your Homemade Potato Gnocchi.
- Use it as the base for this Pesto Vinaigrette to dress your salads.
- Use it as a sauce base for pizzas and Flatbread.
- Add some to your Mayonnaise (this makes a great appetizer when paired with slices of crusty bread topped with steak).
- Use it as a dip for veggies and Crackers.
- Add a touch to your potato salad.
- Pair it with these Potato Stuffed Samosas.
- Or add some to a Caesar Salad dressing.
- Use in chicken quesadillas (made with either Flour Tortillas or Corn Tortillas).
- Top your Pan Seared Chicken with a dollop or two.
- Use it to marinate and grill your shrimp in.
- Fold a little into your Mashed Potatoes.
Did you make this recipe or any of the above recommendations? If so, we’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so snap a pic and reach out to us (@kitrusycleaneat and #kitrusy) and don’t forget to leave a comment and rating below!💕
Poor Man's Pesto
- Wash and pat dry the basil and baby spinach leaves.
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend on high for 20-30 seconds or as long as a minute (being sure to stop and scrape down the sides every so often) until your desired texture is achieved. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Pulse the basil, spinach, nuts, garlic and cheese in a food processor for 10-20 seconds on high.
- If using a full sized processor stream in the olive oil. If using a mini-food processor (like me) add it in all at once. Be sure to scrape the sides so that all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Add the salt, pepper and dried oregano and allow to run on low for 10 seconds. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
Use and Storage:
- Use with your favorite whole wheat pasta or with potatoes. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week (some oxidization on the surface is normal) or you can freeze it in ice cube trays or in individual bags in the freezer for up to six months.
- You can blanch your basil and spinach leaves (steep in hot water for 20 seconds and then place the leaves into an ice bath) before processing them for a creamy and retained green sauce.
- If you don't have or want to use Parmesan cheese you can substitute it with Pecorino Romano or any other hard, salty, aged cheeses.
- To take the recipe to a whole other level, lightly toast the nuts in a pan on low heat and allow it to cool completely before adding it to the food processor.