Spinach Basil Pesto
Pesto is one of the only green in color foods I can get my kids to eat. So I especially like to hide a leafy green veggie in it! I’ll use anything from Arugula to Mizuna to a touch of baby Kale and Spinach. They have no clue. They love it and ask for it all the time. I typically make it once a week so we have it for pasta one night and on a homemade pizza another night.
Rolled out dough, topped with halved cherry tomatoes and baked. We then throw on some raw cashew cheese on top as soon as it comes out of the oven. Its great.
Pesto and Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
I personally like to to save some for Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches. I could eat these sandwiches all summer long.
There is also sometimes pesto eating before a pesto dinner. I get hungry while I’m cooking.
I generally always made our pesto in a food processor but, sadly, part of it broke and I still haven’t ordered the replacement part. All of our pesto is now made in our Vita Mix. The processor makes it chunky, which I prefer. The Vita Mix makes the pesto smooth, which is also ok. It just depends on what you like or which appliance is working and which isn’t!
Traditionally pesto is made with pine nuts. I’ve given up on pine nuts since having a good ol’ case of pine mouth a few years back. It was terrible. My mouth tasted like metal for days. Right not my favorite nuts and seeds to use are: almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Seeds being my favorite since I like to keep my daughters school lunches nut free. Feel free to experiment with any nut or seed you like.
What’s also traditional in pesto which is a concern for vegans or those that are just dairy free is cheese. I found the best way to replace the cheese in this recipe was to use miso paste! We think it’s a perfect substitution and it’s quite healthy for you also. A good Mellow Miso is easy to find in well stocked supermarkets.
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups basil
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 1/2 tablespoons mellow miso paste
- 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, may need more
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup (optional)
- salt to taste
- Add all ingredients and blend until combined. Salt to taste. If it's thicker then you would like then drizzle in some more olive oil.
- Pulse seeds and garlic until finely chopped. Add basil, spinach, mellow miso paste, agave syrup and blend. While the machine is running slowly pour in the oil. Blend until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Season to taste with salt.
- Experiment! Try different nuts and seeds! Try different leafy greens but always use basil! Enjoy!
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Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale
Now that I’m feeding a family of four I’ve realized how important side dishes are. It used to be that a pound of pasta would be enough for us. That’s not the case anymore. Reno and Miles can easily eat more then 1/2 a pound combined, especially if there is pesto involved! My husband is also a big eater so the 1 pound isn’t cutting it anymore. There have been many nights where I haven’t made enough food!
I’ve never been a side dish maker. My dinners are generally a one pot meal type of thing. Its easier that way and less to clean up. But now I have to make more food for my always hungry family. One of my favorite, recent, side dishes was a Mushroom and Kale saute. It was a last minute type of thing and it was perfect. Garlic and red pepper flakes sauteed with mixed wild mushrooms and kale. That’s it. I even used pre cut and washed kale which saved time and even more dishes.
It went perfectly with some brown rice pasta covered in homemade pesto. I never want to eat pesto pasta again without some kale and mushrooms on the side.
What are some of your favorite side dishes to make?
I’m a freak for pesto. The saddest part of the end of summer/beginning of fall is that my basil plants in the garden are no more. We had such a great abundance of basil in our garden this year that pesto became my go to dinner for those nights I didn’t know what to make or if I hadn’t been food shopping in awhile. I always have the extra ingredients I need to make it on hand. Those ingredients being garlic, mellow miso, nuts, olive oil and salt. I like a lot of garlic in my pesto. The garlic gives a nice spicy rawness to it. I find a lot of vegan pesto recipes will use nutritional yeast in place of the cheese and as much as I love nutritional yeast and I love it a lot there is no place for it in my pesto recipes. I use miso instead. I love what miso does to a batch of pesto and it gives it a nice richness that replaces the cheese in a traditional pesto. Pine nuts are traditionally used for pesto’s but I like to use almonds instead. I alway’s have almonds in my freezer, they are much cheaper then pine nuts and you don’t run the risk of getting “pine mouth”. If you’ve never experienced pine mouth consider yourself lucky. If you don’t know what it is wikipedia it or something like that. Its not a fun thing to experience.
A new ingredient I’ve been adding to my pesto is a leafy green such as spinach or kale. Sometime over the last year my daughter Reno has become obsessed with pesto. Its her number 1 requested meal. One day over the summer I got the brilliant idea to sub 1/2 of the basil for spinach and it was great! She loved it and it got a vegetable in her. When she’s making it with me and sees me put some baby spinach into it she’ll ask what it is and I just tell her it’s a friend of the basil and she goes with it….thank goodness. Anyone I’ve had over for a pesto dinner that has kale or spinach in it hasn’t been able to tell that’s I’ve strayed from my usual recipe.
When I make pesto using basil from the garden I make A LOT of it. It freezes wonderfully and if you put saran wrap pressing right up against the pesto making sure to get all air bubbles out it will keep in the fridge for a few days without oxidizing much. You can alternatively pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto before refrigerating.