If I had to choose only one condiment to eat the rest of my life, I’d probably pick pesto. The original genovese recipe is basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil, but it’s ridiculously versatile and easy to play with different ingredients to make a unique version every time (just don’t tell your Italian grandmother if you decide to stray from tradition). I love it with pasta, sandwiches and wraps, as a base for a salad dressing, or just drizzled on some toasted artisan bread. Actually having been to the region where it was first invented in Italy and tasting the true authenticity of it there was an amazing experience. I have tried a few times in the past to grow a small basil plant to supply my never-ending cravings, but my apartment patios’s low sunlight just doesn’t cooperate. I visited my sister and brother-in-law this past weekend, and I always take advantage of their bounty of fresh basil in their annoyingly perfect garden. Of course I used it right away, and to make it stretch a little (and up the superfood factor) I added a couple handfuls of spinach. Another fun tweak I did was to replace the pine nuts with my favorite Blue Diamond almonds that are rosemary black pepper flavored. This recipe is also lighter than many jarred brands because some of the liquid is water and lemon juice instead of way too much oil. I like my pesto more paste-like and not too runny, but feel free to adjust the amount of liquid to reach your preferred consistency.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cups fresh spinach
1-2 garlic cloves
3 T rosemary black pepper almonds (or plain)
2 T lemon juice
2 T water
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (sharper than parmesan)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, combine basil, spinach, garlic, lemon, and almonds and chop until there are no large leaves or chunks of garlic. Add the water and oil a little at a time until the consistency is how you want. Add the cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine.