Winter Sage Pesto

Sometimes we have a helluva time trying to keep fresh herbs from the ravishes of death. Death by waterlog, or freezer-burn, or simply old age. We profess a tendency to neglect them in the fridge until it’s almost too late.
But one of the best ways to keep the reaper at bay, when it comes to your herbs anyway, is to give them a second chance. As dip. Pulsed with garlic, good quality oil, and a flick of lemon usually does the trick. Not being slaves to tradition, we’re quick to call just about anything treated this way as “pesto.” Even if basil is nowhere to be found and you choose to exclude the parmesan reggiano.
Recently, we were gifted a couple pounds of pine nuts (what with Chinese tariffs driving the price of pignon sky-high, this was a grateful windfall) so our minds were set on using these oily little morsels to help preserve whatever herbs we were close to killing. Some withering spinach and forlorn sage leaves stared back at us from the crisper. Voila! Sage and spinach spread. Nutty and musty, the gunk went wonderfully on Yukon gold gnocchi and equally well by itself on croutons. Just don’t be tempted to toss more sage into the mix or you’ll end up with one skunky dip.
Winter Pesto
(Makes about 4 cups)
2 1/2 cups pine nuts
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups spinach leaves
1 shallot, chopped
6 fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
1. Place the pine nuts in a blender or food processor. Add one cup of olive oil and a splash of water, if needed, to move the mixture. Puree for a minute. Roughly cop the spinach and add to the mix. Pulse again.
2. Finally toss in sage, garlic, nutritional yeast, garlic, shallot and the last bit of oil. Keep pulsing. Grate fresh nutmeg and lemon zest into the blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse a final time and remove with a spatula.
Beverage: Stone Special Collaboration Holiday Ale
Soundtrack: The Misfits, “Death Comes Ripping”

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3 Responses to Winter Sage Pesto

  1. jude says:

    if you don’t have two pounds of pine nuts around you can also substitute for a cheaper nut. Cashews and walnuts are great in pestos!
    also, I like to make big batches of pesto and then freeze it in ice cube trays. single serving pesto winter warmup jam!

  2. julie says:


  3. sabji says:

    thanks! just what i am looking for…making gnocchi on saturday ;)

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