When I was growing up, my parents grew beautiful basil in their garden. (And they still do.) So naturally, my mom made a ton of beautiful basil pesto! It became a tradition to have the pesto on English muffins topped with thick slices of sweet, heirloom tomatoes (also from their garden). This yummy dinner tradition is still a meaningful part of our summers. I love that.
Since I so enjoy experimenting with different ingredients, I’ve made many different pesto sauces over the years, and this one is my favorite — next to my mom’s, of course! Both spinach and kale are so incredibly good for you! Eating these two delicious leafy greens is just like eating a bunch of vitamins! Really, they’re so healthy!
Spread it on toast or your sandwich, serve it with grilled fish, chicken, or steak, sauce your pasta with it, mix it into your eggs, eat it with a spoon — it’s all divine!
Basil pesto is typically made with pine nuts. I use almonds here. Different flavorful leaves, different tasty nuts, the possibilities are endless! Try different cheeses too! Whatever inspires you!
- ½ cup blanched, toasted almonds
- about 1-1/2 dozen large, fresh black kale leaves
- 3 cups firmly packed, fresh spinach leaves
- 6 small to medium, peeled garlic cloves, with roots removed
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spread the nuts out evenly on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, place the nuts in the oven and roast them until they are very aromatic and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stay with them, though, because they can go from perfect to burnt quickly! (This is an important step because toasting nuts brings their oils and natural sugars to the surface, greatly enhancing their flavor!)
- Wash and dry the spinach and kale. Remove any tough stems from the kale and break the leaves into smaller pieces.
- In a food processor, make the pesto by blending the spinach and kale with the toasted almonds, garlic, Parmesan, tomato paste, lemon juice and sugar. Then gradually pour in the oil and blend until smooth. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.
Any variety of kale will work for this recipe, but black kale is my favorite.