Spinach and Walnut Sauce (the unpesto, pesto)

Spinach and Walnut Sauce

Beginning in spring and well into summer, many different kinds of pesto recipes are featured throughout the food world.  I’ve never been a fan of pestos.  While I love the (typically) bright emerald green colors, I’ve always found them too heavy, too garlic-y, too something.  Yet, the idea of grinding a vegetable or herb, fat(s), salt, and acid together producing a sauce is very appealing.

So, I came up with this spinach and walnut sauce that I’ll stir into brown rice and garbanzo beans this evening. Served over a bed of wilted spinach with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, the unpesto pesto looks pretty good.


Pestos can be enjoyed on pasta or rice.  They can be stirred into egg dishes, or spread onto a sandwich.

Spinach and Walnut Sauce 

Cook’s Notes:  I found the garlic packs just enough punch. The lemon juice, while perceptible, is not overpowering, and the walnuts are a good amount of fat.  To make this into a more traditional pesto, add extra virgin olive oil to taste and desired consistency.

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt (scant) + more to taste
  • 1/3 c. walnuts (heaping)
  • 2 c. tightly packed baby spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry, stems removed
  • 1/4 c. parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

All of these ingredients can be processed in a food processor.  Or, if grinding by hand in a mortar and pestle, begin mashing the garlic, salt, and walnuts together.  Once finely ground, add the spinach and parsley a handful at a time along with the lemon juice.  Work in a circular motion with the mortar until desired consistency.  Taste and adjust for salt.  Yield: 1/2 c.

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