Spinach Walnut Pesto (and the Christmas Detox)

Between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I’m pretty sure I ate:

12 bites of french toast
11 chocolate-dipped pretzels
10 shrimp with cocktail sauce
9 iced sugar cookies
8 cups of coffee
7 stuffed mushrooms
6 pieces of bread
5 meeeeattttt-ballllllls
4 pieces of fudge
3 whole potatoes
2 (cups) of struffoli honey balls
and a monster piece of chicken marsala


All delicious, of course. Christmas is the time of year where I revel in every little nuance surrounding holiday treats, from the long-standing family traditions behind them to sharing them with friends and family near and far. I also treat myself in a non-edible way and throw my typical routine out the window.ย  I traded my standard half-hour on the elliptical for walking 1 1/2 miles to the store just to pour over eyeshadow palettes. I stayed in my PJs until early afternoon (both days), and felt no guilt about tearing through reality TV series on Netflix like it’s Y2K all over again and there’s mass panic all our electronics will sizzle.

But they say all good things must come to an end, and I guess they’re right in this case. Turning a 180 from the daily go-go-go of work/errands/exercise wouldn’t seem so luxurious if it was blub-city all the time around here. December 26th I woke up a little earlier, said hello again to the elliptical, and stopped with the reality TV knocked some items off my to-do list. But I also treated myself to a delicious dinner made with simple, nutritious ingredients (a dinner of which I ate a normal-sized portion at a normal time of night, so there’s that).

Spinach Walnut Pesto
The walnut oil was a total impulse buy at the supermarket this week, and I may want to put it on everything. Between the walnuts and the walnut oil, which are full of healthy fats, and the spinach leaves, which are packed with just about every vitamin under the sun, you’re getting a SUPER easy, richly-flavored sauce with some serious nutritional value. In this instance, I used it as a sauce for pasta and thinned it out using some of the boiling pasta water so that it coated everything and wasn’t too thick. Feel free to add less water or omit it entirely and use it as a spread for sandwiches, etc.

Spinach Walnut Pesto
Yields enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta

2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
1/2 cup walnut oil
3 cloves garlic, more or less to taste
1/4 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 cup hot water

1.Peel garlic. Add spinach leaves, walnut oil, garlic, and walnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds.

Pesto without water

2. If making pasta, do your pasta thing and bring pot of water to a boil, salt it, and throw in your pasta (I used penne). When pasta is just about done, scoop out 1/2 cup of pasta water and pour into food processor with the pesto mixture. Pulse to combine.

Pesto with water

3. Toss pesto sauce with pasta and serve.


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