Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raspberry Spinach Pesto

It was a much deeper green that it is appearing on my screen--it was really a beautiful color!

I often talk about a method or process versus a recipe, and if there is a perfect example of that, it's pesto. Traditional pesto is a paste of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese, but there are a million and one different variations out there, so many ways to adjust pesto to your taste and budget. You can use any leafy green herb or leafy greens (arugula, spinach, watercress, etc.) in place of basil, and in place of pine nuts, you can use any tree nut, even sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Instead of Parmesan, you could use Asiago, Romano or Cotija. Or skip the cheese. You will even find some pesto with additions such as tomatoes, olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers or lemon zest/juice. This recipe is my newest brainstorm after needing to find a use for some leftover spinach and then finding some raspberries shoved to the back of the fridge that were not going to last another day. I keep the focus on the spinach, and the raspberries add just a slightly sweet little something in the background that cuts through the slight saltiness of the Parmesan--one of my new favorites for sure!

I got spinach for a steal using a coupon during a sale. I use sliced almonds often, so I bought a bit larger bag in the prepackaged bulk section, which keeps my price per recipe fairly low for a sometimes expensive ingredient. They also have small packages in the baking section, enough for two batches of this recipe, for around $1.60, so not much more expensive if you don't use many almonds. Raspberries tend to be pretty expensive around here in the stores, so I usually only buy them when they are on sale. Frozen raspberries would work just as well, thawed first. I splurged on a small wedge of a good Parmesan cheese, but the small amount used in this recipe ended up at only 1/8 of the wedge and $.63, and I still have a lot left for other dishes. You can certainly use something cheaper, and if you don't do dairy, leave it out, it will still taste great.

When I make pesto, I like to go easy on the nuts, oil and cheese (if I add any cheese at all). If I need a bit more liquid to help it process into a paste, I add warm water a tablespoon or two at a time instead of using more oil. You will see different proportions of the main ingredients in almost every recipe--experiment and see what you like. I also like to make a batch sized so that it's just enough to use in one dish unless I know I will need more. It can keep in the refrigerator for at least a week, probably longer, but it needs a thin coat of olive oil poured on top so that it doesn't turn an unappetizing color. I have also had good luck freezing other pesto recipes for 2-3 months, though I usually skip the cheese if I plan on freezing it.

Stir this into some warm pasta, and you have an instant meal, super easy and economical!

Raspberry Spinach Pesto

2 cups spinach, packed
1/3 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sliced/slivered almonds
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Warm water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place spinach, raspberries, almonds, olive oil, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender and process just until well combined and smooth. If you need more liquid to get it moving, add warm water 1-2 tablespoons at a time. If not using right away, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour a thin coat of olive oil over the top.


Spinach: On sale 4 bags/$5, used $.75 off coupon ($.50 per bag), used 1/3 = $.17
Almonds: $3.99/10 oz bag, used 1/6 of bag = $.67
Raspberries: On sale for $2.99/6 oz pkg, used 1/3 of pkg = $1.00
Parmesan cheese: $5 for 4 oz, used 1/2 oz = $.63

Total Cost: $2.47
Four Servings: $.62 per serving

No comments:

Post a Comment