Is there anyone in this world that doesn’t love pesto? Like is that a thing? Doesn’t seem possible. Pesto is an all-star in the kitchen because it’s easy to make, uber flavorful & incredibly versatile. I use it as a pasta sauce, on top of grain salads & on pizza. It’s even a great spread on toast, bagels & crackers. This vegan pesto recipe, made with baby spinach & fresh basil, is just about as simple as you can get, and it’s Lean Pantry approved!
Lean Pantry approved? What the F does that mean? Let me explain. If your kitchen is stocked with the Lean Pantry Kitchen Stock List, fresh basil is the only ingredient you need to buy for this recipe. That’s assuming that baby spinach is your stocked baby green of choice, but if not, then pick up some spinach while stopping off for the basil. And with that, the four other ingredients for this pesto should already be stocked – olive oil, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), garlic & sea salt.
Ok, ingredients are ready to go. So now I just throw everything into my trusty Vitamix blender, and process until smooth. Of course a food processor or standard blender work for this as well, but my Vitamix is my ride-or-die, so yeah. Anyhoo, in just 10 minutes you can have this pesto prepped, packed up and in the fridge, ready for countless meals throughout the week. I definitely recommend making this pesto a part of your weekly meal prep routine, if you have one that is. If not, making this pesto each week is a great place to start. Just imagine the pesto-bilities!
Vegan Spinach & Basil Pesto
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 cups packed baby spinach
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain (to taste)
black pepper, optional
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process until desired consistency is reached. If needed, add additional olive oil to achieve desired consistency. I use a high speed blender and add the pumpkin seeds & olive oil in first. Add more olive oil to achieve desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
– avoid adding extra olive oil or water until ready to eat. The texture without added oil/water is perfect as a spread or dip. If using for pasta, thin out pesto with starchy pasta cooking water when mixing into cooked pasta
– to toast pumpkin seeds, bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the seeds are fragrant and starting to “pop”
– you’re looking for 3-4 cups leaves total, do any combination of spinach and basil that you like… or try some other combos of herbs and greens… arugula with mint or baby kale with cilantro!
– I recently made a Sage-Walnut Pesto & it was a hit… 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 heaping cup toasted walnuts, 2-3 cups baby spinach, 1 heaping cup sage leaves roughly chopped, 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1+ teaspoon salt, 1/2+ teaspoon black pepper