by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Winter Pesto


This pesto is really tasty on a variety of foods. Just a dollop on salmon, pasta, vegetables, asparagus etc really adds a lot of fresh flavor.  In the middle of winter this recipe was one of few ideas I could come up with and it really is a good way to make something out of nothing.  Only a few scraps remain in my garden and making something fresh of course poses a challenge. I ripped several handfuls of the remaining (surviving) spinach and arugula leaves. Pesto was the first idea that came to mind for these ingredients but I wasn’t sure if it would work. The overwintering arugula is peppery and full of flavor but could it replace fresh basil? Also, without lemon and pine nuts I was not sure if I could put this all together and make something worthwhile. The northwest’s own trusty filbert might be a good choice for the nut and I always have garlic and olive oil. I toasted the filberts, and began to grind them in a food processor. I next added salt, a garlic clove and a  handful each of the spinach and arugula. Drizzling in the olive oil brought this pesto surprisingly close to something really delicious. It was missing the necessary acid and the best choice seemed to be apple cider vinegar which indeed pulled the whole recipe together. It turned out better than I could have expected. I have been using Nutritional Yeast as it is an excellent Vitamin B supplement and adding this ingredient in just makes this pesto all the more healthy.

Winter Pesto

1 cup (handful) spinach

1 cup (handful) arugula

1/2 cup chopped filberts

1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1 tsp salt


Run a knife over the Filberts, at least chopping each in half. Add to frying pan at medium heat and dry roast for several minutes until they begin to turn brown and become fragrant. Put Filberts and garlic clove in a food processor and pulse several times. Next add spinach and arugula and pulse again. If using arugula and spinach from the garden, remove the outer parts of the leaves, discard the woody stems. Baby spinach and arugula form the store are used whole. Next add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, nutritional yeast (if using) and blend it into a paste. Give it a taste and adjust as needed.



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