Pesto doesn’t have to be made with basil! Try this delicious version made with spinach.
I love basil pesto. Especially since I started growing basil myself and it is so easy and fast to make. Last year, my basil was in a container, so in the winter, I took it inside and it fared surprisingly well. But this year, I planted it in the garden. What I got was a much bigger plant, but as soon as the first cold weather hit, it died. I was so sad that day, when I went out to get some basil, only to find a big, brown plant. And now I’m wishing I would have planted in a container again so that I could have my basil year round!
So what do you do when you don’t have your home-grown basil, and you practically have to sell your first born to be able to afford either fresh basil or pre-made basil pesto from the grocery store? You start trying out other pesto recipes!! When I came across this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it out. I have been wanting to try different kinds of pestos, and this gave me a great excuse.
The recipe originally calls for hazelnuts, but after a search at several different stores, I came up empty handed. That seems to be happening to me a lot lately!! So I used pine nuts, but I’m sure the hazelnuts would have been delicious. And I added chicken, which could definitely be left out, but we like our protein!
UPDATE: Find the recipe for the Danish “French” Bread HERE.
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- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain pasta
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 9 ounces spinach, woody stems discarded
- freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- ½ lb. cooked chicken, cut into chunks (optional)
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, 20-25 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
- While the pasta is working, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil, garlic and rosemary over medium-low heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then pour the oil and garlic into a food processor. Add the nuts and spinach and process into a thick paste. Season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg, if using.
- Stir the pasta cooking water into the caramelized onions, then stir in the pesto. Add the pasta, cheese, and chicken if using and toss to combine.