Happy Wednesday! I’m back in toasty (and I do mean toasty, hello 90 degree heat and sweaty armpits, I did not miss you) South Carolina after our jaunt in the Windy City. We had such a fabulous trip and packed A LOT into our brief stay. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Since we’ve been back I have been catching up on laundry, and Renly cuddles.
Goodness I miss that sweet face when he’s not around.
I’ve also been getting back into my gym routine and buying lots of healthy groceries after an indulgent weekend away. Fancy dinners and deep dish pizza lunches call for zucchini noodle recovery. Confession…. You know those annoying people who say things like “I would order a cheeseburger but I just LOVE salad” when you go out to eat? I might be one of them. I know.
I actually do love salad, but not because I’m an annoying health nut (or at least I hope not) but rather because I eat salad a lot and I think they taste delicious. I have definitely discovered over the last few years of eating better, that I tend to crave whatever I’m in the habit of eating, be it healthy or less so. Humans are creatures of habit and if you are in a routine of eating whole, good for you things, you want to continue eating whole, good for you things and not just because you know they are good for you, but because they actually start to taste good to you. I think this is why the most successful diets are those that help you cultivate new habits that stick with you longer than the prescribed 21, 30, whatever number of days. Once you start enjoying the good for you stuff, you’re going to want to stick with it.
Now, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy the moment and indulge when it’s worth it, I certainly enjoyed my deep dish pizza, BUT it is nice to be back home and get back on track. So now we’ll get to the recipe
I adore pesto (and pretty much all things Italian) and have been making it from scratch ever since I realized how simple it was. Store bought pesto can be pricy (thanks pine nuts) and loaded with calories. You can make your own less expensive, equally as delicious and much better for you version at home. All you need is a food processor (or a good blender would probably work too).
Pesto is traditionally made from basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and muy expensivo pine nuts. In case you have ever wondered why pine nuts are so expensive, I actually know the answer to this. Thanks to my love affair with Food Network, including the lovely show “How it’s Made” that teaches you all about where your favorite foods come from, I am now in the know about the pine nut harvesting process and would love to impart this knowledge on you fine people as well. Pine Nuts come from…. drum roll please…. pine cones. Yep. Pine Cones. They are basically edible pine cone seeds and they have to be harvested by hand! There is also a fairly long drying out process and they have several shells that must be removed. Labor intensive to say the least, hence the high price tag. Since pine nuts cost so darn much, I tend to use mine sparingly, like sprinkled on top of dishes rather than ground into them by the cupful like they are in pesto. So to combat this problem, I have experimenting using several different (read: less expensive) nut varieties in my pesto and guess what, they are REALLY good! Pine nuts, I still love you, but walnuts and almonds? Come join me for a healthy pesto high-five.
The other ingredient that makes this pesto extra yummy and super is the addition of spinach! Or kale, or both! Whatever your heart desires (or is currently in your crisper). Greens blend perfectly into pesto and up the nutrition ante big time without changing the flavor at all! Win!
As you know, I am a personal fan of the zucchini noodle, but you can enjoy this pesto hot or cold, on meats, on pasta, on veggies, or even by the spoonful (guilty). We love it on zoodles topped with shrimp or baked with meatballs. Hope you enjoy this delightfully green sauce as much as we do!
Super Spinach Pesto
1 Cup Basil
2 Cups Spinach (or Kale, or a combination!)
1/2 Cup Walnuts (almonds work too)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency is achieved, scraping down the sides several times as needed.
2. Use pesto to top pasta, meats or vegetables. Enjoy!