This easy recipe for pesto incorporates healthy spinach for added flavor and nutrients.
What’s in this spinach pesto sauce?
All the normal pesto ingredients — basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Plus spinach!
Why use both fresh and dried basil?
You don’t have to do this but I like the texture the mix of dried basil and fresh basil produces. If you only have fresh basil, that’s OK. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can use just dried basil but you may miss a bit of the strength in flavor you get from using fresh basil leaves.
Remove the basil stems.
The stems of fresh basil can have a bitter taste. So for the best tasting pesto, remove as much of the stems as possible before adding your basil.
Same applies for fresh spinach leaves. Remove as much of the stems as you can.
Toast your pine nuts.
Lightly toasting your pine nuts enhances their natural nutty flavor. You can toast them in a pan on the stovetop or on a baking sheet in the oven or toaster oven at 350˚ for about 3-5 minutes or until they just start to darken in color. When you begin to smell them, they are done. Remove right away so that they don’t overcook.
Parmesan cheese — what’s the best kind to use?
I prefer shredded Parmesan cheese vs. grated but you can use either one. I like the more subtle flavor and waxy texture of shredded Parmesan vs. the more tangy taste and powdery texture of grated Parmesan cheese. But try both and see what you prefer.
What’s the best type of garlic to use?
You can use fresh garlic, minced garlic or garlic powder. I prefer minced garlic because it’s convenient and easy and has a more powerful flavor than garlic powder. I honestly don’t have the patience for peeling and grating fresh garlic but if you do, by all means, use fresh!
Choose the type of garlic you prefer. There’s no right or wrong here, just personal preference of flavor and convenience.
What type of spinach is best to use?
You can use fresh or frozen spinach when making this spinach pesto. I recommend fresh spinach leaves though. You’ll get a better texture, brighter color, better flavor and a less watery tasting pesto. However, if frozen spinach is all you have, it will work. Just be sure to thaw it and squeeze out excess water before blending it.
Adjust the quantities to your preference.
If you feel like you’d like a little more basil, a bit less oil, a little more cheese, etc… go ahead and adjust these ingredients until you get your perfect pesto. The recipe below is really just a guideline and ingredients list but you can adjust the flavor to your personal preferences.
How to Store Homemade Pesto
Store in a sealed Mason jar (I use Mason jar plastic lids).
Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
You can also freeze pesto for up to 6 months. Ideally, store pesto in an air tight container if freezing. A plastic bag with the air removed works well.
Other Easy Homemade Sauces
Want to explore making other sauces from scratch? Browse all my sauce recipes.
Simple Spinach Pesto
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- ¼ cup pine nuts toasted
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- Remove stems from fresh spinach leaves and fresh basil leaves then add to food processor.
- Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until light golden brown and fragrant. OR toast in oven/toaster oven at 350˚for 3-5 minutes.
- Add toasted pine nuts, dried basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt to food processor and blend until combined.
- Store in a small Mason jar in the fridge.