Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spicy Spinach Pesto

This may not be a recommendation you hear a lot: pesto sauce is always great to keep on hand. You'll be surprised how easy it can be to whip up a quick, healthy and flavorful dinner when you have some pesto ready to go!

Traditional pesto is made with basil leaves, pine nuts and olive oil. It's delicious and rich in healthy unsaturated fats. But I'm not always willing to bank a couple hundred calories on a pasta sauce--so I created this lightened-up version. It's a little more lightly flavored that traditional pesto and still has the benefits of heart-healthy unsaturated fats--but with a little kick. All you need is a food processor or good blender.

My best tip for whenever you make your own sauces is to prepare a large batch. Leftovers, like this sauce, can be frozen in smaller portions to use to prepare quick meals later on. This method works great for pesto, marinara or meat sauces. Since pesto sauce is used in a smaller portion size than other pasta sauces, I like to freeze it in ice cube trays. When the pesto freezes, transfer your "cubes" to a large, zip-top freezer bag. This recipe serves 6 and can be adjusted to prepare extra. Pesto can also be used as an appetizer spread on a baguette.

Spicy Spinach Pesto
Serves 6.

  • 2 cup spinach, baby
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 dash Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • In a food processor, pulse spinach, pine nuts and lemon juice.
  • Add spices.
  • Add olive oil and pulse until smooth.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories 80 | Total Fat 8g | Saturated Fat 1g | Cholesterol 0mg | Sodium 32mg | Total Carb 1g | Fiber .5g | Sugars 0g | Protein 1g.

Download the recipe here. Use in this recipe: Green Pasta (Rotini with Spicy Spinach Pesto)