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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recipe: Magic Bullet Spinach Pesto

I love living in the city but I don't love the postage stamp-sized kitchens that come with most urban apartments. My current kitchen has very limited cabinet and counter space, so I had to store bigger kitchen implements like the food processor and slow cooker on a high shelf in the closet. Not the most accessible place for spontaneous cooking.

However, my fiancĂ© has introduced me to the versatile, chopping and pureeing awesomeness that is the Magic Bullet. It's much more compact than my Cuisinart food processor, easier to clean, and does many of the same things. I've dabbled with Magic Bullet smoothies but when I discovered that you can also make pesto in the Bullet, I was officially hooked.

While browsing recipes online, I discovered that you can make pesto with spinach instead of basil. Mind blown. (A swapper brought parsley pesto to an event a year or so ago, and that was also pretty tasty.)

Now, some people recommend adding a dash of vanilla, blanching the spinach, or mixing with other herbs to neutralize some of the bitterness in the spinach, but I think it tastes just fine on its own. In fact, the garlic and olive oil give it that distinctive pesto-like flavor, so I suspect you could sneak it into a pasta dish and serve it to someone who claims to hate spinach without their knowing. Or you could try variations like using an infused olive oil instead of regular EVOO or adding a dash of lemon juice. I made one batch of pesto with the lemon-infused olive oil that Tara gave me for Christmas, but as it turns out, I actually prefer lemon olive oil on salads.

Here is my recipe adapted from a Food.com recipe for speedy pesto:

Magic Bullet Spinach Pesto
makes about 2 cups

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, well-washed, stemmed, and torn into small pieces
1/2 cup toasted nuts (I used almonds)*
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves (more if you like garlic)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Add ingredients to a food processor or Magic Bullet and process to a fine paste. You may need to mix it around using a spoon between pulses. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks, longer if frozen.

*Toasting nuts in the oven is tricky. If you don't watch them like a hawk, they will burn. That's why I usually toast a little more than I need, set the oven to 350 degrees, and check them often.

I served the pesto on rotini pasta with feta cheese and grape tomatoes, then delivered the dish to Community Cooks, a Somerville-based nonprofit that uses volunteer home chefs to help feed the food insecure. If I have time, I'll make another batch to swap at our next food swap on Sunday, July 21 in Boston. If you'd like to share your own homemade goodies, then RSVP for the swap through Eventbrite.

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