Spinach basil pesto with garlic scapes will add a burst of flavour to almost any dish. Garden-fresh, delicious and super easy to make!
Hello there! Is your garden bursting with all kinds of green leafy vegetable and herb goodness? Or, do you love visiting local farmers’ markets like I do? If you’re putting your hand up saying, YES, YES, then this recipe is for you!
Unfortunately, having a yard on the smaller side means being limited in what we’re able to grow each season. This year, I planted basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, chives, and thyme, along with some spinach and kale in containers. Not much, but it keeps the garden-loving side of me happy until we have more space.
In the meantime, there are all kinds of garden-to-table markets around us that make preparing fresh and delicious recipes so fun this time of year. And, in most cases, local produce is bursting with much more flavour, not to mention nutrients, than you’d typically find at a regular supermarket.
On our way to a family picnic a few weeks ago, we made a pitstop in a nearby town and picked up garlic scapes from a local garlic farmer. If you’ve never heard of garlic scapes, they’re the flower buds of garlic plants that are removed earlier in the growing season to encourage the bulbs to plump up. Basically, you can use them the same way you’d use garlic cloves in a recipe.
I find the flavour to be a bit milder, making them a good choice for uncooked dishes like fresh pesto.
Have you ever made your own pesto? It’s so easy!
What can you do with pesto? We enjoy it slathered on bread or crackers, as pizza sauce, or simply tossed with al dente pasta. It’s also delicious spooned over fresh tomatoes, grilled vegetables, chicken or soup. The possibilities are endless. Eat it straight from the jar if you want. No judging here!
How do you make pesto? You can use almost any variety of leafy greens and herbs to make pesto. For this recipe, I chose spinach and basil since that’s what I had most of in my garden and I wanted to get to it before the pesky little bugs did! They seem to love spinach, don’t they? And those little aphids are rampant this time of year, ugh!
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How to Make Spinach Basil Pesto
Add both the spinach and basil to a food processor, along with some chopped garlic scapes (or garlic), pecans (or other nuts you prefer), salt and pepper, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and parmesan cheese. It’s really that simple. A powerful blender will work too, but food processors are so handy. Mine is by KitchenAid and use it regularly.
I like to whip up a double batch and freeze it in jars (I used these cute ones). That way, I always have a quick and easy meal or appetizer option if I’m pressed for time or somebody stops by unexpectedly. And, who doesn’t want a nutritious burst of freshness added to a meal once the growing season is over?!
It also makes a great hostess gift or take-along appetizer for summer parties. Add to a basket with artisan bread similar to this chili garlic olive oil one I put together.
How long does basil pesto last? In the refrigerator, this pesto will keep for 5-7 days in an airtight container. Pesto will last 3-4 months in the freezer.
You can also freeze it in ice cube trays to pop into soups, stews or sauces to add flavour.
What can you use instead of parmesan in pesto? Try pecorino or asiago.
Spinach Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes
- 3 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ cup chopped garlic scapes or 1 large garlic clove
- ⅔ cup finely chopped pecans or pine nuts or walnuts
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Zest and juice of large lemon about 4 TB. juice
- ⅔ cups extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a food processor (or powerful blender), pulse together spinach, basil, garlic scapes, pecans, sea salt and pepper, lemon juice and zest until coarsely ground.
With food processor running, slowly add olive oil through top. Process until combined.
Scrape down sides (if necessary), add grated parmesan cheese and pulse until smooth.
Store in glass jars and refrigerate for up to one week (or freeze up to 6 months).
- Makes 2, 250 mL jars.
- I like to whip up a double batch and freeze it in jars. That way, I always have a quick and easy meal or appetizer option if I’m pressed for time or somebody stops by unexpectedly.
- You can also freeze it in ice cube trays to pop into soups, stews or sauces to add flavour.
Be sure to pin this garlic scape spinach pesto for later!
Ready to give this fresh spinach basil pesto recipe a try? It definitely won’t disappoint! I plan on making another batch this weekend to pop into the freezer for later.
Now, go and soak up every last drop of summer before it’s over!
Enjoy your day,
This pesto recipe was originally published August 2017 and updated with new ideas and photos.