(another favorite by Giada!! with modifications by me)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 (2-inch long) red or green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups grated Romano cheese
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounces baby spinach
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fusilli pasta
- 2 T lemon juice
Some notes before I give you the recipe. Usually I find that pasta recipes are really heavy on the pasta and lacking on the sauce. This one is an exception. This recipes makes a MASSIVE amount of pesto. I only made 1/2 a pound of pasta because I hate under-dressed pasta. We had half of the pesto leftover and it warmed up quite nicely for a second meal. I also added about a tablespoon of lemon juice the second time and I think it improved the taste. The original recipe calls for 3 ounces of arugula and 3 ounces of spinach but since I had only spinach on hand I used that. I don't think the arugula itself would have been enough to brighten up the taste so I would add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to taste if you are making this.
With that said, here's how to make it!
You'll need a large food processor for this. Otherwise you'll want to cut the ingredients in half and make in two batches.
Combine nuts, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic in food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the spinach and/or spinach and arugula. Process until combine.
Here is another place where I really deviated from the recipe. This recipe called for 1/4 a cup of olive oil. You simply do not need that much! Plus I just couldn't stand to think of all those added calories when it tasted so wonderful on it's own! So....add anywhere between a tablespoon and 1/4 cup of olive oil at this point. I'd start small and see if you like the consistency and taste.
A few other notes. Jalapeno peppers are hot. If you add the seeds to the recipe they are even hotter. Some people suggest gloves when preparing them. I don't use them but make sure you wash your hands after handling them. If you really like spicy food you can keep the seeds.
I loved the taste of this recipe but at the same time found it to be lacking. In the future I think I might add some sauteed cherry tomatoes to give it some brightness. It would also make a lovely Christmas dish with beautiful green and red colors. I think I would prefer this as a side dish.
That being said, I'd definitely make it again. without the olive oil it's a decently healthy pesto recipe! It would also be great served on top of chicken.
Hope you enjoy!