Inspired by my friend Gwen (she used to put spinach in her pesto when her kids were small) and Mark Bittman, who suggests using parsley to help green the pesto in “Food Matters”. I find that if you add the whole leaves last, and then the olive oil right after that, mine does not brown. But the spinach and parsley do make for a brighter green, and a bit of a different taste. I also use walnuts because they are local for us.
2/3 cup walnut pieces
2 – 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (or more to taste) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed fresh baby spinach leaves
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry (be careful to snip the leaves off at the stem – if you break the leaves themselves, they begin to blacken and your pesto won’t be as pretty)
2 – 4 tablespoons parsley leaves
1 – 1.5 cups olive oil (you don’t really have to measure)
Toast the nuts at about 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Don’t over brown. Cool.
Place the first four ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined and chopped. Add the parmesan and do the same. Add the basil and do the same. Then, with the processor running, drizzle in the oil until the desired consistency is reached (you may not need all of it). Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze.