The only place I can seem to find pesto here sells it in tiny little jars that cost 4 Euros each, I still buy it because I love it so much. It’s so versatile that you can use it for a whole lot of different things, mix it with pasta, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a quick pasta salad. You can just eat it on fresh bread, use it for pizza. It’s a great starting point for all sorts of things. I knew as soon as my lovely indoor Basil plant had begun to take over its pot [read: flea market earthenware water jug] that I would be making lots and lots of pesto and this week, as my plant had begun to look a little “leggy” I knew it was that time.
You actually need to keep your basil plant regularly trimmed so that it will continue to produce leaves throughout the growing season, I didn’t think that would be a problem as I use it so much, but I obviously thought wrong. A single basil plant can yield around 12 cups of leaves in one season if cared for properly, that’s a whole lot of basil!
The spinach in my vegetable garden has also been doing wonderfully, we have one long row of tasty looking leaves flanked on one side by our bean plants, which are now over an inch high. On the other side are some stepping stones and then two tomato plants, which had to be staked a couple of weeks ago and are currently covered in little yellow flowers. I seriously can’t wait for those tomatoes!
Now, I really love spinach, but we do have rather a lot of it and there’s only so much spinach salad a person can eat in a week. I was going to freeze some to use later, but then I thought “I have a ton of basil and a ton of spinach. Surely I can make something with this?” I saw my little jar of over-priced pesto sitting in the fridge and that cartoon lightbulb appeared above my head, “Ooooh! Spinach pesto!”
This is great too, because you can put the finished pesto into ice-cube trays and pop it in the freezer. Honestly I’m not sure how long it will last in there, ours gets eaten so quickly. I’m also still getting over my “But if they’re frozen, that means they’re immortal, right?” attitude towards the freezer. But this does freeze, you need to omit the cheese if you’re planning on freezing it and then add it after you’ve thawed the pesto for eating. I’m guessing that it’ll last around a month in there but don’t quote me on that.
Spinach & Basil Pesto
Blend 1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit if you are freezing the pesto), 2 chopped cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1/2 cup olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed.
Taste the pesto and add more lemon juice, salt, or garlic if desired.
Pour into ice cube trays to freeze, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.