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Spinach Pesto (Healthy! Delicious! Easy!)

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Guys, I haven’t had my own kitchen in 3 months, and while not cooking every night seems like a dream, I really, really miss it. Right now, I’m busy planning our next kitchen, so while I’m doing that, I’m also planning recipes I’ll be making in said new kitchen. (I’ve somehow gained 13 pounds with all the not cooking I’ve been doing…)

Monday night, I whipped up some (healthy! delicious! easy!) spinach pesto and ate so much I probably gained another 2 pounds. (But then I got my hair cut and lost 5, so….win?)

Spinach Pesto

Doesn’t that look so pretty and green and amazing? It was seriously one of the brightest and most lovely dishes I’ve ever made, and it was so easy! It was also FAST! Dinner was ready in under 30 minutes, which makes this a great meal for families who are crunched for time in the evenings.

I’m estimating amounts for all of these ingredients except the spinach. I used 3 pounds and it made a LOT of pesto (and I poured it ALL on the pasta instead of putting some in a jar and sticking it in the fridge for future use). Use the following list as a guideline, but adjust how much of each you add based on your own preferences. But don’t skimp on the garlic. Or the cheese.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 pounds baby spinach
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (and then some) shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 5-6 T olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • Pasta of your choice

Soften your garlic in 2 T of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then throw in the basil. Enjoy the aroma! Add in the spinach, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, and drizzle it with another 2 T olive oil. Gently toss it a bit to mix the spinach, salt/pepper, and oil. Cover it and let it wilt, stirring once or twice.

Once it’s wilted, add cheese, milk or cream (use 1% or 2% for lighter pesto, heavy cream for richer pesto), and spinach to a blender or food processor. Blend. I added another 2 T of olive oil while blending and then used reserved pasta water, just a ladel-full, to thin the pesto just a bit, not so that it pours like water, but so it would actually pour. I’m not even sure if that makes sense but I hope it does.

Drain your pasta and pour the spinach pesto over it, tossing the pasta to coat/mix with the sauce. Top with more shaved parmesan cheese.

I used capellini because that’s what we had in the pantry, but Dan said he would’ve preferred a penne or other heartier pasta. Fetuccine would be an excellent option. I also sauteed some chicken to go with the pasta, but if you want a meatless meal, this can do the trick. This would be great served with a big, leafy salad. (Spring mix, blue cheese crumbles, Craisins, candied walnuts, champagne vinaigrette. You’re welcome.)

This is not a meal I could make weekly since I’m the pasta fan in the family, but I could definitely throw it into the monthly rotation and play around with the add-ins for variety. Chicken, shrimp, zucchini chunks, maybe sundried tomatoes, all would work nicely.

Voila! Dinner is served!

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