How to Make Healthy Spinach Basil Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes
Homemade pesto is pretty much a perfect food: fast, full of flavor, and if you throw in some green leafies, full of nutrition, too. On pasta, it becomes a great night-before-a-long-run meal. The roasted tomatoes add color, brightness, and a healthy dose of vitamin C. Garlic and lemon are great detoxifiers. Pine nuts are an excellent source of many minerals, including manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and selenium. Basil is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Nutritional yeast provides vitamin B12. Spinach is, of course, a nutritional powerhouse (it’s been ranked the world’s healthiest vegetable!), with over 20% of your daily recommended amount of dietary fiber.
And the best news about this pesto is that it tastes so great, you won’t even notice it’s healthy!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 4 cloves garlic
- juice from half a lemon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pound pasta (I used brown rice penne pasta)
- In bowl or food processor, pulse garlic until coarsely chopped.
- Add basil, spinach, garlic, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Pulse until finely chopped (about 30 seconds).
- With processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the feed tube. Process until pesto is smooth.
Roasted Tomatoes Instructions
- In small bowl, toss tomato halves with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Spread out, cut side down, on roasting pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes, until skins on tomatoes begin to shrivel and brown.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Toss with desired amount of pesto. Top with tomatoes.
- Store leftover pesto in the refrigerator and use it as a sandwich spread or a dip for fresh vegetables. Stir it into canned soup or macaroni and cheese to add extra nutrition and flavor. (A pesto, tomato and grilled cheese–or cheese-like vegan substitute–sandwich is pretty much heaven on a plate).
- Replace spinach with mixed leafy greens for even more nutrition. I love Trader Joe’s “Power to the Greens” and Organic Girl’s “SUPERGREENS!” Arugula would make a spicy substitution, and baby kale would also be great!
- Replace pine nuts with any mild-flavored nut: walnuts, almonds, or cashews would all work.
- Pine nuts are expensive (I nearly passed out when I scanned a bag at Costco), so be mindful when you are toasting them. About 5 minutes at 350 degrees should be plenty. I recommend standing by the oven and watching. It’s only five minutes (or less), and it’ll end up saving you money. By the time you smell nuts roasting, they are already burned. (You can also leave the pine nuts raw, if you wish).
- Yes, you can substitute an equal amount of parmesan cheese for the nutritional yeast, if you consume dairy.
- Add chicken or other meat for additional protein if you’re into that.