OK, I’m in love. I made a Shabbat dinner for our scholar-in-residence weekend, and the visiting scholar was the first (and only) female rabbi in Italy. Of course I decided to make an Italian inspired dinner. Of course it had to include pesto.
Now I used to make a number of dishes with a delicious organic pesto I found at Costco. If you know me, you know I use almost no commercial food products, but this one passed muster with me since it was organic, had few ingredients, none that were unpronounceable and none that I didn’t recognize as real food. Then I started working on this vegan thing. Couldn’t use it.
In researching for this meal, I found the following recipe in Pinterest, provided by Baker by Nature. I enjoyed the preview you see here — with a bit of my homemade Spelt Challah and some of the Tuscan Bean Soup I made for the dinner. The recipe didn’t use the requisite Parmesan cheese, and I was a little uncertain, but the result was, nonetheless, amazing. I couldn’t get enough. I hated to have to use the quart I made for the dinner and can’t wait to make my own quart to consume at home! Oh, I doubled the recipe to get a quart.
It does occur to me that I didn’t miss the cheese partly because of the extra virgin olive oil (use a good one!) and partly because of the pine nuts, a traditional part of this recipe. Those pine nuts are ridiculously expensive, though. I may try it another time with peeled almonds or perhaps raw cashews (cashews because, like pine nuts, they are soft and rich). For now, tho, this is how I made it, and it’s wonderful!
Vegan Spinach Pesto
- Spinach leaves, 2 very big handfuls
- Basil leaves, 1 very big handful
- Pine nuts, 1/3 cup
- Garlic, 5 cloves
- Salt, 1 tsp.
- Pepper, 1/2 tsp.
- Crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp.
- Lemon, juice of one small (about 1/8 cup)
- Extra virgin olive oil, 3/8 cup (max. 1/2 cup)
I rarely use black pepper in anything, and I usually opt for hot paprika over crushed red pepper. Honestly, I don’t remember for sure what I did in this case, but I would guess I did use the crushed red pepper, perhaps a little rounded, and skipped the black pepper.
I chopped the spinach and basil very slightly and put everything into a food processor, starting with the garlic and pine nuts, then the greens, and finally the seasonings. I pulsed it all a few times until it was evenly chopped, then ran the processor until everything was granular and even. I added the oil and lemon, then pulsed again. The original recipe called for more oil, but I like it better with a little less.
As I said, I’m in love! Can’t wait to make this again.
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