Spinach almond pesto is a fresh and versatile condiment with a spotlight on summer seasonal basil! Using almonds instead of pine nuts and bulking it up with spinach makes it more cost-effective without sacrificing the classic flavors.
Is it even summer if you haven’t made a batch of homemade pesto yet? It’s one of my absolute favorite condiments because HELLO versatile kitchen staple.
This is one of those “flavor bomb” ingredients that I always ramble about. Basically a small amount scales up any dish (other flavor bombs: capers, anchovies, olives), so it’s great to keep on hand for fast, flavor-packed, plant-forward cooking.
The ingredients for a classic pesto are simple and you probably already keep most of these on hand. There are a couple of non-traditional ingredients in my version, but I think you’ll love these substitutions!
- Basil – the star ingredient. Many of you have basil growing in your garden/window sills. If not, grab some at the grocery store or farmer’s market. This is what really makes pesto. You need one small container.
- Spinach – pesto is easy to customize and you can cut the basil with almost any leafy green. I used spinach because it blends easily and lends a beautiful bright green color.
- Toasted almonds – pine nuts are traditional in pesto, but I’m not in love with the flavor and they’re relatively expensive (and can be hard to find). The almonds really pop in this, especially if you toast them first. Please do.
- Lemon – fresh citrus juice adds acidity and freshness
- Parmesan cheese – use the block and grate it yourself, or buy pre-grated. I won’t judge!
- Garlic – because what’s pesto without garlic?
- Date – I’ve seen recipes that incorporate a small amount of sweetener like maple syrup, so I added a date for subtle sweetness. It worked so well! It might sound strange, just trust me. I’ll never not do this again.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is streamed in last to bring everything together and add body to the sauce. A heart-healthy finish!
If you have a food processor, making pesto at home is simple. You’ll want to pulse all of the ingredients except the olive oil first. See the photo below on the left for ideal consistency. It should be slightly chunky but uniform. Everything will be well incorporated.
Next, turn the motor on and slowly stream in the olive oil until it resembles the photo on the right. You can see that it’s smooth, spoonable and bright green. It should be more of a sauce than a chutney at this point.
How to Store Pesto
A chef friend of mine always stored homemade pesto with a thin layer of olive oil on top and covered with plastic wrap (underneath the lid) to keep out as much air as possible. Of course this is an optional step, but could help extend the life of your pesto by a few days.
It’s best to use the smallest food storage container possible, like my favorite small jars which are 8 ounces and just right for the amount this recipe yields – one cup. You can see there’s no extra space on top!
How to Use Pesto in Meals
Once you have a batch of this homemade spinach almond pesto ready to go in your fridge, there are so many ways to use it when whipping up a quick and healthy meal. Here are some favorites:
- Tossed with pasta (or pasta salad), vegetables and grilled chicken
- As a topping for fish, like salmon or cod
- In grilled cheese, or paninis
- On top scrambled eggs
- As part of a charcuterie board
- Mixed into aioli for a creamy, rich sauce
- To jazz up roasted vegetables
If you give this a try, leave me a comment letting me know how you used it in meals!Print
Spinach Almond Pesto
A fresh and versatile condiment with a spotlight on summer seasonal basil! Using almonds instead of pine nuts and bulking it up with spinach makes it more cost-effective without sacrificing the classic flavors.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
- Category: Sauces and Dressings
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 pack basil (2/3 oz)
- 2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 pitted medjool date
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Add almonds through date to a food processor and pulse until ingredients are well incorporated but it’s still slightly chunky (scraping down sides as needed).
- Slowly stream in olive oil while motor is running. Season with salt & pepper if desired.
- The equipment section above includes affiliate links to things I use often in my kitchen and recommend.
- Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
- Calories: 138 calories
- Fat: 13 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Protein: 4 grams
Keywords: almond pesto, spinach pesto, summer recipes, sauces and dressings, marinades, gluten-free, vegetarian
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