Basil and Spinach Pesto

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When my kids were little guys, we planted an herb container garden on the deck every spring. They were in charge of watering the seeds and picking out any debris. They’d watch the pot every day, anxious for a green shoot to sprout out of the dirt. By summer, there was a bounty of fresh herbs for us to cook with. It was such a sweet time, and I am so grateful for the experience with them.

Now that they’re teenagers, they have a lot going on in their lives and planting a container garden is no longer a priority. I’m a little sad, but at least I have the memories. Now I just pick up a bunch of fresh herbs at the farmers market whenever I work there. Last week, Wild Hope Farm had glorious bunches of basil for sale, and I couldn’t resist. As soon as I got the fragrant herbs home, I made a fresh batch of pesto. Summer cooking wouldn’t be complete without it.  In addition to the basil, I used some baby spinach in the sauce to mellow the flavor. Since I keep walnuts in the pantry I threw a handful in the food processor instead of the pine nuts used in the traditional recipe.

Although my container herb garden days are over, I’m glad I have the memories with my boys. As a vendor at the Matthews Farmers Market, I now have access to the freshest herbs in town without getting my hands dirty.

Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!

Basil and Spinach Pesto
Makes 1 cup

3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
¼ cup pine nuts (or walnuts), toasted
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup freshly grated Romano
3 garlic cloves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Coarse-ground pepper

Place the basil, spinach, nuts, both cheeses, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until a paste forms, scraping down the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream and blend until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use immediately or place plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


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