There’s no garlic in this pesto and you’ll never miss it. Serve it with Italian meatballs or toss it with gluten-free pasta and grilled chicken for a quick meal. I keep meatballs and pesto in the freezer for easy last-minute meals. The pesto keeps for up to three months in the freezer, so make a couple of batches and feast when the cold weather arrives. The pesto recipe is a specialty of The Meatball Shop in New York City, where they pair it with lentil and mushroom veggie balls. Whatever you like to serve it with, this walnut, spinach and basil pesto is a delicious change from the typical pine nut, basil and garlic version. The spinach and basil are blanched then plunged into ice water to keep the bright green color.
Spinach and Basil Pesto
Makes about 1 1/3 cups (320 ml), adapted from the New York Times
1/4 cup (28 grams or 60 ml) chopped, toasted walnuts
4 cups (10 ounces) or 960 ml (285 grams) baby spinach
2 cups (2 ounces) or 480 ml (56 grams) fresh basil, stems removed
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt or to taste
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) or 60 ml (28 grams) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl half full with water and ice and place it next to the sink. When the water boils, stir in the spinach and basil and cook for 1 minute. Drain the vegetables then immediately dump them into the bowl of ice water and stir until cooled. Remove the remaining ice then drain them again. Use your hands to squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and basil before roughly chopping them.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. The pesto tastes best after the flavors mingle, so wait five or ten minutes before checking to see if it needs more salt.