Pesto has become a staple in my kitchen almost as much as olive oil and nut butters. It's so easy to throw something fresh and green into the food processor, but I never limit myself to only using basil. I've experimented with everything from cilantro and lemon balm, to carrot and radish tops (yep they're totally edible, too). Today I used tender baby spinach and walnuts, but instead of stirring it into pasta, it's combined with quinoa, radishes, and snow peas---a real plunge into spring bounty!
Leftover pesto is such a savior to have around: it's great for spreading onto sandwiches or drizzling over an omelet or frittata. Get creative and use it with rice, quinoa, millet, and farro for something different to your week night dinner menu.
Spinach Pesto Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1/4 lb. fresh snow peas, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups baby spinach packed, divided
1/2 cup raw or lightly toasted walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
juice and zest of one small lemon
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Rinse and drain the quinoa well. Place in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. You'll see a little curlycue when it's done cooking. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
To make the pesto, place the garlic and a pinch of salt into the bowl of a food processor and give it a few pulses to break the garlic up. Add in 2 cups of spinach, walnuts, lemon zest and juice and puree, while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Salt to taste.
Combine the quinoa and pesto in a bowl and mix well to combine. Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup spinach, snow peas, and radishes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Jacquelyn Scoggin became a vegetarian at age 16 and has since been in the kitchen whipping up meals for her family and friends. She writes and photographs her love for vegetarian food on her blog, Good Things Grow. In 2009, she and her husband started Slide Sideways, a graphic design and handmade business. They maintain their love for the environment by using organic fabric, recycled paper, and environmentally friendly cleaning products.