Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spinach Pesto

Summer is upon us once again here in South Georgia.  Typically we would be getting short afternoon rain storms almost daily; however the entire region is experiencing a drought. Ryan and I once again attempted a windowsill garden and currently have a large lavender plant, 2 large stalks of mint, and a mixture of baby basil and chives that are cohabitating in the same pot.  While there may be a 10” rain deficit outside, our plants are growing nicely.  A few weeks ago Ryan’s coworker who has a bit of a green thumb let us confiscate some of his basil which I took quite happily and made into a basil/spinach pesto.

My grandmother used to make pesto with basil from her garden every year.  Making this brought back memories of watching her whip up a batch and helping her pour it into ice cube trays to save for the rest of the year.  She would slather it inside a pita with cheese, turkey, and broccoli and then warm the whole thing in the microwave until the cheese just started to melt.  Yum Yum Yum.
This was the first time I made pesto myself, and it’s a little nontraditional in that the recipe I followed called for spinach not basil.  But I threw some basil in anyway.  I think condiments are often overlooked as a source of calories, but also as a source of important nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants including: potassium, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin E, and many others.
1 Tbs of basic pesto: 80 kcal, 7g fat, 123mg sodium, 1g carb, 0.5g fiber, 3g protein
Here is the recipe that I tried:

 Steam 1lb of baby spinach until wilted, approximately 5 minutes.  Drain and squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a food processor and add 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1/4tsp red pepper flakes, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts, 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Pulse until finely ground.  While machine is running add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and the zest of 1 lemon. 

1 Tbs contains: 70 kcal, 6g fat, 1.6g carb, 0.73g fiber, 2.5g protein

This recipe was very thick since it uses very little oil. If you want a thinner consistency without adding more oil try adding some of the water squeezed out of the spinach.  You’ll gain back those lost nutrients.  While it doesn’t exactly count as a serving of vegetables, it does provide an alternative to the usual mustard/mayo combination for sandwiches and packs more antioxidants in as well as some heart healthy fats. But what else to do with it…
Vegans: stir into whole wheat pasta with sautéed veggies. (omit parmesan cheese in recipe, add a dash of salt instead).
Vegetarians: add to a grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich
Pescetarian: Smear onto toasted baguettes and top with sardines
Carnivore:  Add juice of 1 lemon to ¼ cup of pesto and marinate 4 chicken breasts for 1 hour before baking in the oven at 375 for 30-45 minutes.
Locavore:  Spread onto slices of home grown zucchini and grill for 10 minutes till tender.

1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome recipe! Thank you also for classifying the recipe depending on one’s diet. Now everyone can enjoy this delicious recipe. Keep up the good work!