There is such a feeling of satisfaction that comes from making your own sauces, especially those that you are accustomed to buying. I remember being incredibly excited when I realized how easy it was to make my own marinara sauce, finally able to forgo all of the sugar-laden options at the store. It opened my eyes and pushed me to become braver in the kitchen. Now, one of my favorite homemade sauces is pesto – for being so flavorful and elegant, you would never know how quickly it comes together.
One of the things I love about pesto is that you can really get creative with the ingredients. While the classic version is based on basil and pine nuts, I love the combination of spinach and almonds too. I still add a few basil leaves to the mix to keep that classic pesto flavor, but using spinach is a wonderful way to sneak in an extra vegetable to your meal. The almonds add a nice texture to the pesto and give it a good level of thickness.
This is a wonderful dinner that comes together quickly, yet still feels special. You can also make a big batch of the pesto and then freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays – whenever you need some, just defrost a few of the cubes as you’re preparing your pasta.
- 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- Handful of fresh basil leaves (about 5 large leaves)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grated vegetarian parmesan
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound linguine
- Cook linguine according to package instructions.
- In the meantime, toast the unpeeled garlic clove in a skillet over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to touch, peel the garlic and add to the food processor.
- Add almonds to the food processor and pulse with the garlic for 1-2 minutes.
- Add spinach, basil, olive oil, cheese, and juice and zest of the lemon; pulse for another 1-2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When the linguine is finished, reserve about ⅓ cup of the cooking water before straining.
- Add about ¾ of the pesto mixture to the linguine. Taste to see if you like the amount of pesto; if you would like a stronger flavor, add the remainder. If the linguine and pesto is too dry, add the reserved cooking water.
If you don’t have a food processor yet, I highly recommend getting one. I use mine for countless recipes and love easy they are to use. I have a classic Cuisinart one, which you can find here.